As a child, one of the most fundamental lessons you are taught is as follows:
“Under no circumstances should you talk to strangers on the internet, or, even more importantly, meet them in real life.“
And so would follow an overworked video about a child who made a companion online who turned out to be a middle-aged paedophile.
I never actively set out to disobey such advice, and in no way disagree that it is of utmost importance to stay safe online and be cautious and cynical of those you choose to speak to.
It just so happened, that someone who lives far away became the closest friend I’ve ever had.
I’ve been very fortunate to have always been surrounded by wonderful groups of friends, but I find the way friendships are formed in high school to be, ultimately, dysfunctional.
Those of us who are fortunate may find life long friendships in school, and I have been lucky enough to have formed numerous close bonds, but to throw a group of children together and expect them to find their clique leads to friendships often formed on necessity rather than long-term compatibility.
You need friendships to maintain a certain social standing, and spending most days of five years with the same people is ultimately going to force people to bond.
When you make friends with someone online, you don’t see them every day. You actively make the choice to speak to them because you want to, and not just because you’ll be left to eat your lunch alone if you do not. You could block them on everything and never interact again and most people in your life would be none the wiser.
Friendships formed this way, on a ground of ‘want to’ not ‘have to’, I find to be stronger than any other. Of course, many friendships in real life are just as strong, but the fact that you can see someone so very rarely and still maintain such a close bond for so long, I think is very unique.
My friend Chloe lives 174 miles away. She’s never met my family, she’s never slept over, she’s never come to my birthday parties and we’ve met in real life only once. And yet, she’s my best friend of nearly 2 years.
A few days ago I found out that we’ll be meeting for the second time in November of this year, and the fact that someone I see once a year knows me so well, I find is incredibly special.
If you’ve never had an internet friend, I very much endorse it. An entire planet of people is at your fingertips and the fact that we can speak to people we may never have known without the internet is something I think should be taken advantage of (as fore-mentioned, with a good amount of caution.).