7. Looks are not important to them. They don’t know if you have a giant zit. They don't care.
Someone on Facebook asked me if I had any “real life friends.”
I took a deep breath. I didn’t respond. The question hurt my feelings.
The answer is yes. I have friends whom I see in “real life.” I also have a strong network of friends that I speak to online. I take issue with the term “real life.” My friends inside my phone are profoundly real. When I am at my wit's end because my 4-year-old is throwing a massive fucking tantrum, and I can’t talk on the phone with anyone because she is yelling so loudly, I take refuge in my online best friends.
I turn to JC Hannigan. We have been friends for six years. When we met online (on Twitter), our kids were babies. Now they are “little people,” as my friend Dennis Sharpe says — he is also an online friend. JC is my safe haven. We met on Twitter. She blogged at www.sarcastica.ca, and I interviewed her for my blog. We started getting to know each other by reading each other's writing. We would share each other's posts on Facebook and Twitter.
As time went on, we would email each other posts to read before we actually shared them on our blogs. JC lives in Canada. I live in New York City. We developed a pen-pal type friendship. We become Facebook friends, we chatted online, and then we started video chatting about writing. As time went on, we would talk less about writing and more about our lives. We’d speak about parenting struggles and relationships. She was one of the biggest supports in my life when I separated from my husband. Before I knew it, JC became one of my close friends, and we have never met in “real life.”
Yet, her friendship is deeply real to me. After six years of being friends exclusively online, I finally get to meet her this summer — although, I feel like I already have met her, because we know so much about each other, and we have spoken via Skype. When I am having a bad day, I turn to JC because she has been a loyal support to me. I am so grateful for her friendship. I can’t imagine life without her.
She has been there for me, and I have been there for her. JC has a rare chronic pain disorder called MHE. It results in her getting growths or tumors on her bones that have to be surgically removed. She has had 17 surgeries. I wrote a blog post and dedicated it to her right before she was going under the knife. Because, after we had been talking every day, it was going to be weird not speaking to her.
If it were not for the Internet, I would not have met my beautiful friend, JC Hannigan. I am glad the Internet exists. I am grateful for social media for connecting me with someone who truly understands me as a person and has been a wonderfully supportive friend to me.
I feel this way about many of my Internet friends. It reminds me of when I was 9 years old and had a pen pal. Her name was Anne. I lived on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and she lived in Washington State. We never met, but we wrote each other for over a year. We shared our deepest secrets with each other. We talked about boys we had crushes on and our hopes and dreams for the future. I still wonder about Anne to this day.
I wondered if there were other people who valued online relationships as much as I do. I was certain there were. I posted a status on Facebook asking people to tell me their thoughts about their online friends. Here are some of the fantastic sentiments they had to share:
“There are more opportunities to find like-minded people on the Internet, regardless of your passions. So rather than hoping someone next-door binge watches Daredevil and enjoys writing, you can go online and find those people. As a writer, I've been fortunate to connect with dozens of really interesting people, some of whom, like the lovely Miss Sarah Fader, are friends of friends... of friends. And while many of the connections are superficial, some blossom into something much deeper.” - Gareth
“Right now I have on baggy oversized black sweats. My hair is tied up on top of my head so I basically look like a Hefty bag with a twist tie. My body reeks of fried onion and potato from Adventures In Latke Frying. Yesterday's eyeliner is doing the walk of shame across my face.
And yet, I can still visit you here and tell you I love you. Without worrying how I look or smell!
I LOVE my online friends. The Internet is freaking magical.” –Samara
Don’t just take it from them; take it from me! Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you 10 reasons why online my online friends are awesome:
10. They don’t give a shit what you’re wearing or how you smell.
9. They care about what you have to say because words are important.
8. They don’t ask dumb questions like, “Do you have friends in real life?”
7. Looks are not important to them. They don’t know if you have a giant zit. They don't care if you do.
6. You can talk to them at 3 a.m. when you have insomnia or when your infant wakes up.
5. They are happy to gossip about the assholes in your every day life that they have never met.
4. You can discuss meaningful things with them or just send them a ridiculous cat GIF.
3. They give a shit about your blog — even when the rest of the world doesn't
2. If you ask them to like your pictures on Facebook, they will do it, because they love you.
1. They are real, even though they live in your phone.
Online friendships are real. Human beings seek connection in various forms, and having a connection with another like-minded human being through the Internet is completely and totally valid.