The Internet can be a really great place for a great many things. And friendships is one of them. Of course everyone uses the Internet to keep in contact with their ‘real life’ friends, and to stalk people they met at a party/ kindergarten but haven’t spoken to since (no shame, we all do it). But making brand new friends? Stranger danger! All those online safety seminars from school start to trigger something way in the back of your mind that, perhaps, this isn’t the best idea.
But maybe it is.
Imagine this – you have a friend who you talk to literally every day, you let each other into your respective lives and you find you have lots in common and a real connection. You support each other through everything and it becomes a real solace knowing that you can just pick up your phone and they’ll be there. Wouldn’t you want a friend like this?? Or, if you have one already– another?
The only problem is, that maybe, they live in another city, country, maybe a different continent even. But with the wonderful World Wide Web right here for us, why should we let a few thousand kilometres get in the way?
This is what happened to me! Three years ago, I sent a little message reaching out to someone I followed on Tumblr. On my England trip earlier this month, I was sleeping in her house. In the interim we shared practically everything with each other. We bonded over music and books initially, but soon we were sharing advice and our days and just being great pals. The 17,000ish km proved little barrier to our friendship. Sure the nine hour time difference meant that we were each usually asleep for the majority of each other’s day, but that just means we made time in the mornings and nights.
I was so excited and nervous when they day came to finally meet Lauren, my boyfriend tried in vain to calm me down. After three years, it seemed like we knew each other so well on the inside. But I didn’t even know how tall she was! It was quite an odd experience, but so wonderful. I cried when I got there and I cried when I left. It was so very special to actually be in the same room together, this person who knew me so well – and we finally got to have a conversation with no screen between us.
We are just like old-school pen-pals but in the digital age, although we occasionally do send physical post. We have learnt so much from each other – both on a geographical / cultural level, and on a personal level. I’ve learnt to how to be present without being present. And we still discover differences between our societies all the time (who would have thought England would be that different to Australia?)
In short, be smart – don’t give out personal info to complete randoms on the Internet – but friendships that you make can be some of the best you have. I’m sure we’ll be friends for a very long time yet.