Some of my favourite people are strangers I’ll never meet.
Next weekend I am going to be meeting one of my dearest friends for the past three years, for the first time. It has caused me to reflect on my “online” life.
I have been using the internet as a way to socialize since I was 12, half my life. For a introverted weirdo like me, having access to the online world of socialization was a blessing. Over the past 25 years I have met some of the most amazing, funny people. I have fallen in love, and got married to someone I met online. Yet, it is not something I feel comfortable talking to people about. When I was younger, most people did not even have the internet. MSN messenger and the like did not even exist. As an adult, it’s mostly used for communicating with people you know, because we all know the internet is full of stranger danger.
When I was a teenager I was a manic depressed mess. I was dealing with trauma that I did not know how to articulate in any constructive way. One of my outlets was raging against my poor step mother, and making her life miserable (when all she wanted was to help me). I was a weirdo at school, that some people were afraid of. I did not have a lot of real life “friends”, so I created a world for myself online.
Granted, I was a terror on the internet. It was a place I could take my frustrations, and anger and just let them go. I was a pretty massive troll. I learned to type quickly, and improve my spelling so that I could argue with people, and be a cunt more efficiently. If teenage me, was on the internet now, I’d probably end up in a shitload of trouble.
Despite this, I did manage to make friends, and form connections with people. People from all over the world. They were important friendships to me, almost, and sometimes more important than “real life” relationships. It was a place where I could discuss my trauma, my mental illness to people who understood, who felt the same. Things I could not talk to my “real life” friends about. It was having that outlet that kept me from offing myself.
I grew up with a lot of responsibility, and was, to use a cliche term, forced to grow up way too fast. That gave me quite a sense of false maturity that I look back on now and cringe. That being said, I was a kid. I did some pretty shady shit that I look back on now and I am like, fuck, I could have ended up dead. Like sneaking out of the house when I was 13/14 with a friend to meet a guy who was a LOT older than us. That was probably one of the most dangerous thing I ever did in my life. My parents never found out about it… but if they are reading this, they do now (Love you mom and dad! <3 ). Yep. I could have been my very own forensic file episode.
Despite doing some shady shit, I met a lot of really great people online, and then in real life. The secret is trusting your gut, if something seems too good to be true, it is. If you have a hinky feeling about someone, trust it. Following these rules I never had any strange encounters with people, aside from the previously mentioned one.
Also, Every dude I’ve dated I’ve met online, and most of them were all pretty awesome fellas. I was really lucky in that aspect. I honestly think I’d still be single if it wasn’t for the internet. I am not pretty enough to make up for all the crazy, and the internet gave me time to get to know people, and introduce them to the crazy before meeting them. My fantastical husband was also someone I met online, and he is the best thing that has ever happened to me.
As I got into my late twenties, I started working on my mental health, and started branching out. I made better real life relationships and my dependance on the internet relationships waned. I still maintain a group of friends exclusively online. Friends that know me better than most people do in real life. It’s a weird dichotomy to exist in sometimes, because most of my friends do not use the internet in the same capacity I do, or do not have the same history with it. So it is not easy for them to understand my relationships that I have with people, and why I talk about them as if they are in my “real life”.
My dear friend that I mentioned in the beginning of this post is one such person. He is just as valuable to me as my “real life” friendships. He is not the type of person I could ever see myself befriending if I met him in real life,we are complete opposites in terms of worldview. However, we built a sad animal zoo together on minecraft and that just cemented our friendship. We are in constant communication, and he is a barometer for my mental health and catches things that I do not. Even though he does not subscribe to my views, he pushes me to express them (he’s the reason I even have this blog). I am very blessed to have him as a friend. I am so stoked to see him in person, and be subjected to his “why the fuck do I put up with this” face.
It may not be for everyone, but it was the best thing for me. Much better than drinking and partying, which.. I was never interested in anyway. I miss the sound of the dial up modem letting me know that I am connected. Everything so easy now, seamless. We take it for granted that it’s there, and what it does. We very rarely reflect on what came before. No longer do we have to take photos, wait for them to develop, wait to find a scanner, and then wait the 15min for them to load before you can show someone what you look like. We can just share everything with people in seconds, and I think that’s so fucking cool.