Hi friends! I was sitting here thinking “what can I write about that I don’t need to take pictures for” (because I’m in midterms and it’s just not something I have time for) and that’s when I thought of this. I’m hoping this post will just clarify some questions people might have about making friends with people you’ve never met.
To some, the concept of internet friends might sound dangerous and stupid. If that’s what you think, I respect that and I get where you’re coming from; I just want to explain my perspective. The biggest thing is …I’m not an idiot. Technology isn’t new to me, I grew up with it and had alllll the seminars on the dangers of the internet at elementary and middle school. I’m aware of catfishers but the friends that I’ve made are far from dangerous people.
The first thing people need to understand is that there are whole sections on the internet where real people collect together to talk about something they love – fandoms of bands, TV shows, different celebrities and more. The groups of people change depending on the website – i.e. the twitter One Direction fanbase is a lot different from the Tumblr or Instagram fanbase. Most people involved in these fanbases are aware of catfishers. The reality of it is that catfishing in a fandom and actually making friends would be a really difficult thing to do. Fandoms are like a full time job and generally include things like “reaction pics” aka live action shots of you screaming or crying whenever anything ever happens. On top of that, anyone having their pictures stolen is on the internet and has enough followers to find out if someone’s stealing their pictures. In reality, the most people ‘catfishing’ are awkward girls who use pictures of Instagram famous girls because they want people to think they’re pretty.
I was in a Twitter fandom for about 8 months, which isn’t really that long. In that time I made three full-on friendships, one of them is still one of my best friends. To this day, I’ve only ever met one of the girls I made friends with because she’s the only one who lives within possible meet up distance. It was still a flight down to southern Ontario before I met her, but considering my other two friends live in 1 – The southern USA, 2- the U.K., it’s pretty manageable. All of the girls I made friends with have now also moved on from the fandom life, and the only reason we’re still friends is because we’ve formed bonds and have things in common. Before you get to this level of friendship on the internet there are a couple of steps you need to go through:
- Following each other on other forms of social media.
- iMessaging each other
It’s not like every friend I made got my number! I was very aware that it could be a sketchy situation and pretty reluctant to hand that out to just anyone. Be careful and don’t make poor decisions; don’t meet up with anyone you’ve never skyped with, stop talking to someone who doesn’t have any real life friends active on any of their social media accounts. Slowly as a friendship builds it’s up to you to decide whether or not you want to let someone know more about you. I’m pretty sure these three girls are the only ones that ever got my number.* When you don’t have many friends at school or people to hang out with in person, you tend to spend more time on the internet. I spent so much time in a twitter fandom because it was just something to do; it was kind of a hobby. I made really good friends because, though I was cautious of who I was opening up to, I was so tired of not having a friend I could just be myself with and be honest with.
*: I actually gave it to another girl but she was homophobic and I yelled at her and then she never texted me again (lol).
I’m going to talk mostly about the girl I met on the Internet who became my best friend, and continues to be my best friend despite the fact that we’ve still never met. Liz and I first met because we shipped each other with each other’s favs (if you’ve been in a fandom you know what this is about, I’m not going to explain it). We started talking like every day on Twitter direct messages, then iMessaging. I remember the first time I skyped with her because I was super nervous because it was such a strange situation. I think we must have met at just the right time because it all worked out so well. Friendship soulmates.
It’s been over two years since then and I still talk to her every week. When we met we were both at the same place in our life and had a lot of shared issues (see: anxiety problems, being kind of weirdos, etc), since then Liz has come into her own so much. She’s really not like me at all; she’s kind and caring where I’m reserved and awkward, she’s understanding and helpful where I’m uncomfortable and very much not helpful. Most of all she finds so much faith in herself where I can’t find faith in anything that I can’t make clearcut logical sense of. These difference between us didn’t make our friendship less strong or less valuable, but incredibly more so. I will always remember the first horrible night on my trip in Greece when I was having panic attacks every 15 minutes and she chatted with me whenever I needed a distraction, and tried her best to be helpful. I will never forget two years ago, when I had an existential crisis and fell into a deep, deep depression, she talked to me every day and tried her best to help me through it in all the ways she knew how. Liz is one of my most valuable friends, and she’s one of the biggest reasons I am where I am today, and I’ve never met her before in my life.
Every couple of months Liz and I have a skype date and catch up on all the little things that have been going on in our life. We don’t talk every other day anymore because we’ve both kind of grown up and have busier lives and such, but she’s still the first person I text if I have a bad day or if anything goes wrong. To me, she’s not really an ‘internet friend’ anymore because it’s been two years and she doesn’t even have Twitter anymore! Sometimes I forget that I’ve never met her before because so many of my friends go to school far away from me that this texting and skype based friendship has become what most of my friendships are.
What I’m hoping to get across is that the internet can open you up to so many incredible people. You should still be careful, but you should be careful in any friendship you make… a lot of people in real life catfish you too when it comes to their friendship. Basically – don’t discredit a friendship because it was made over the internet. There are so many people who do this even in my own life. Though I know it’s unorthodox, often my internet friends have been more influential and supportive in my life than these people criticizing it. The world is changing, and you don’t have to change with it necessarily. You don’t have to make your own internet friends if you don’t want to or don’t feel comfortable. Just try to put yourself in the perspective of someone who has, because it’s a lot different from what you think it is.
Bloggers definitely also have this kind of ‘internet friends’ thing going on. I think internet friends are important, not just because I’ve had some that were pretty awesome, but because when you’re trying to take blogging seriously it can be super helpful to bounce ideas off someone. This concept of ‘Internet friends’ is something that’s bouncing around in the heads of quite a few other bloggers, so I just wanted to share my experience and perspective.
Be careful in who you choose for a friend, in real life and on the internet.