Did you know that there are people who believe internet friends are not real?
I know. Take a deep breath, sit down if you need to. I have a similar feeling wash over me every time someone says something like this to my face. It takes every ounce of strength not to pull out my phone and wave it in their face, showing them all my “Phone People”. Because, those people? They are very, very real. They are also, for your information, very awesome. For many years, I’ve been able to turn to my corner of the internet, one that expanded with the creation of social media, pour my heart out through my words, and have someone respond with kindness. For as much awful crap that is spewed on the internet, there is a decent, amazing, and kind side to it.
Did you know that the father of my first born was originally an internet friend? Remember Yahoo Chats? That totally happened. One of my friend’s who is very much like a sister to me, who I cried with when her mother passed away? Internet friend, actually on a rebellious Mormon group. My very best friend and I met first through the internet. We fell in love over our impeccable taste in good music and way too expensive cloth diapers. Through the years, I’ve added to that list. I have the friend who I go to for writing advice. The friend I go to for snarky quips about things that make me twitchy. I have several friends that I’ve met through adoption. And, these are just the ones that I’ve met that have made a lasting impression on me.
We’ve moved a fair bit in the last couple of years, and with another one in the future, I’ve been hesitant to reach out to anyone in my local community. Saying goodbye sucks (especially when Adele is crooning in the background, in the middle of January in a frozen Buick). As such, I’ve isolated myself, and am just powering through the empty terrain of our current “normal”. For the most part, I don’t mind. I’m a homebody by nature, but I do miss the ability to text a friend and say, “Hey, can we grab a drink?” at 9pm on a Wednesday night and have someone say, “Let’s do it.” It was a luxury I fantasize about now more than I’ll admit.
That’s where my internet friends come in. I mean, they don’t come with wine, but they are readily available to hear me through whichever medium I use to discuss my whatever words want to fall out of my mouth on social media. I don’t always get a response (a good friend knows when to ignore my rants, and when not to), but that’s always fine with me. I like the maybe false security in knowing that at least one person is hearing me. That makes me feel a little less lonely.
Sometimes, like tonight for instance, I’m so incredibly grateful for these computer people, some I’ve never met in “real life”. I wonder, do the people who question these internet friendships understand that there is an element of empathy and even investment in these relationships that some of my long time “in real life” friends or family have never offered? I can speak to an issue I’m having as a parent, and I generally find my inbox filled with suggestions or comfort. I have followed some people and their blogs so long now that I feel like I’ve watched their kids grow up. All of these people, despite the fact that a computer screen sometimes limit the physicality of the relationship, very real friends.
Yeah, the internet might suck sometimes, but not always. Internet friends are just one of the lovely perks. And one day, we’ll figure out the wine issue, and internet friends will abound for all.