Back in 2004, I only used the internet to read some horrifying paranormal experiences, mythical/fantasy stories and to yahoo chat with my best friend Ismat. One day she introduced me to Facebook and I was hooked just after one visit. Like every desi teenage girl, I used a pseudo-name and put a headless photo on display but still I’d get dozens of friend requests from strangers. I was told by Ismat not to add any stranger or make any internet friendships so I won’t.
One day, I opened my Facebook and saw a friend request from someone named Peri Dove. Whoever this “Peri Dove” was asked me if she can add me to her secret group of friends. Excited to talk to another headless seemingly interesting FB user, I responded with a big yes.
My first interaction with Peri Dove (my first internet friend) was a blast.
This is how I started talking to a stranger on internet. I was never weirded out enough to end our conversation. The transition in our conversation from talking about “FC” (our secret group) to creating inside jokes with each other was instant: One minute, I’d joke about a member of our group, and the next, she’d somehow link it to our personalities saying “the joke is on us bud”. I was thrilled to be talking to someone who was so funny and so odd at the same time.
Peri Dove was my first internet friend. She then introduced me to Hinu, HB, Omi and God knows how many people. I became friends with Hinu and HB and yeah the unmistakable irony here is that I’ve met all of them IRL except for Peri herself.
What I learned from my internet friendships:
What I want to share is that throughout my life I was told that online friendships are not real. But what I learned from my experience online is that they can be more successful than the “real life” friendships. Mainly because online friendships are all about what brings you together is common interests and passions, not proximity. Just because we can’t hang out and grab coffee every once in a while doesn’t mean we can’t become real friends.
Meeting internet friends will change your narrative.
When I first met my online friend, about five years ago, I felt weird. I was really nervous to meet them in person. But after years of friendships, meeting up and spending time, I realized that online friendships are no less important than those in real life. And after spending years on Facebook and twitter, I can no longer segment my online versus real life friends in my mind. My closest friend, to whom I have talked about everything, is my internet buddy and I have never even met her once in person (hey, Kiran).
Internet friends are friends who walk parallel paths to your own, making the friendship more real and important.
Thanks to social media; Facebook, twitter and blogging that I got to interact with all of these amazing and beautiful people. My internet friends are one of the greatest blessings technology has bestowed upon my life – meeting people who walk parallel paths to my own.
For quite some time I have been meaning to write on this subject. Although it lessens with every passing year, there’s still some taboo with making friends online. It can seem somehow scary. What if it turns into a catfish situation? Well, to be honest, sometimes it does. But this is reality in any relationship for the rest of your life, though, not just with online friends. I once made a mistake in judging a person and that so-called friendship fizzled out and ended badly. But in the grand scheme of things, when I consider all of the amazing, beautiful and genuine people I’ve met, it was more than worth that risk.
I have the most incredible friends; Peri, Hina, Panda, Malka-e-Jazbat, Toothpaste and Kiran. And they’re all because of the internet. Toothpaste, when he’s not writing emails for his father, is always there to listen to all my drama without asking me once about will it ever stop. Peri has self assigned her the task for my personal and professional growth. Kiran has been very patient with me (the way I treat my cats). Hina postponed her birthday celebrations (for her upcoming visit to Lahore) to celebrate it with me. They all have made a huge difference in my life. Especially Kiran and Peri have impacted my life in so many ways. It’s hard to imagine the person I would have become without them.
Still any arguments left? Hope this guy will help:
Online friendship is something I feel very passionate about, and I’m curious to hear your thoughts on the subject as well. Enjoyed the read? Leave me comments.
About the author: Sadaf Alvi is a final year medical student. She is a freelance writer, a blogger and a contributor to Raddi Paper. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow her on Twitter here.