Ah the modern age, a time of advances in medicine, laws, technology, and social media. The Internet has provided us with so many cat videos and memes that we often forget just how easy it makes communication. You can hop on your phone or computer and talk to almost anyone in the world in real time!
While the Internet has granted us a number of gifts, one that I’ll always be thankful for is its ability to create virtual friendships. I’ve met some of my bestest friends online and created such long lasting bonds with them! About 5 years ago, I hopped on Twitter with nothing but a passion for books and some hilarious tweets up my sleeve. It was there, bonding over mutual love for a book series that I met one of my best friends Sam.
Now you may be wondering: What? How have you managed to stay friends with someone who you’ve never met for so long? How does it work?
Well, allow us to explain… Sam asked me these questions to get the ball rolling.
What was your introduction to online friendships/relationships?
When I was younger, I created an instagram account dedicated to The Hunger Games. It was really my first introduction to fandoms and the internet world in general. I met a few friends there and that was really the first time I even knew that fandoms existed. Creating a social media account really led me to things such as fanfiction and fan art, and other fandom things that I didn’t know of before. It made me realize how many other people share the same interests as I do! When I made it to high school, I created a Twitter fan account for a popular book series/movie franchise and that just spiraled into a massive account for multi-fandom things. That’s really where I met all of the friends I currently talk to!
What was your first impression / what is your earliest memory of chatting with me?
We’ve known each other for so long that I can’t even pin the first interaction we’ve had. I remember finding your account since it was one that shared information on the same fandoms I was in. At first, I was really intimidated (making friends can be scary, okay?) but after we followed each other and began talking, I knew I made a lifelong friend! One of my earliest memories with you was us having our first video call and just talking for hours. After having that face to face interaction, our friendship only grew from there and we went to chatting more regularly. Some of my fondest memories include me completely fangirling over all of the incredible novels that you wrote and shared with me! After reading all of the amazing pieces you have written, it really fueled my own passion for wanting to create such amazing worlds and characters. After seeing a friend being so successful in their field, it made me realize that perhaps being an author could be a possibility!
What do you think makes internet friendships so powerful?
Geez, this is a deep question, wouldn’t you say? I’m not sure. I think that internet friendships rely on sole communication and I think that’s what many IRL friendships lack. We aren’t able to physically hang out and we often miss facial expressions and tones of sarcasm since we communicate through text, so I think that being open and honest is a crucial element to have in an online friendship.I also think that online friendships allow for some sort of vulnerability from the two parties. It can be scary to make friends and some of us aren’t always comfortable exposing certain aspects of our personality. I think the fear of judgement really prohibits a lot of individuals from creating healthy friendships, and I think online friendships slightly lessen that burden. To see that there are others out there that enjoy the same things you do can be really reassuring! Plus, you don’t really have to worry about those awkward first encounters when making new friends since you already share a commonality. Plus, internet friends always have different experiences to share since they live in such diverse areas! Finding people who you honestly connect with and have similar interests to is pretty powerful and rare.
What’s one thing you’d love for us to do IRL some day?
One word: Broadway. I’d also love to go shopping for books, clothes, etc. A concert would always be fun! We both share such unique music tastes that I think it would make for a really cool time! Pretty much anything would be awesome if we met IRL one day!
Unlike Wende, I can pinpoint the exact moment we started talking! I was super intimidated by her because she had a lot more followers than me and was always talking to the big shots in the Maze Runner fandom! One lovely summer day as I as being driven to a graduation party that I had no interest in attending, it happened: THE Wende followed me back. It was a very emotional moment for me. She asked me these questions:
Since we’re both in different time zones, do you find it challenging to communicate sometimes?
Nah. You stay up late.
Have you ever traveled to meet an online friend? Would you ever like to travel to meet a friend in the future?
I haven’t, but I would love to!
We’ve known each other for a few years now. How do you think we (and others) manage to stay friends for so long despite never meeting?
All friendships are about making time for the people who matter to you! I think the reason we stayed in touch despite drifting apart for a while is that we are both supportive people who want nothing more than to see our friends succeed! You’ve been so supportive of my career since before I had a career, and I love being able to support you in your goals, too. We’re also just incredibly compatible. Who else would I turn to for clown memes at 4AM? We have the kind of friendship where we can send each other anything, no matter how ridiculous, and still laugh at it. That’s rare!
I’ve met some of my closest friends online (including you!). What advice would you give to people who are looking for new friends but don’t know where to start?
I have, too! My biggest advice is to find your fandom! You can do this by browsing the hashtags related to the fandom you want to join. After you’ve followed some people, don’t be afraid to reply to them and reach out to join conversations! I met some of my best friends by replying “uh…can I be in this groupchat?” to a random tweet. Be brave and BE NICE!
Thanks for reading our story. Though IRL friends are great, you don’t necessarily need to meet someone to love them dearly.