This is not a story that I volunteer to people upon first meeting them. In the same way that dating online carries the stigma of social helplessness, meeting a friend online is sort of the equivalent, in some people’s minds, of being a total social recluse.
When I was fourteen years old, I started an online role playing website set in the Harry Potter universe. Basically, anyone who joined was responsible for creating a character, constructing posts, and then telling stories almost in a round-robin style, through various threads.
The site lasted for a little over three years, or most of my high school career, which is uncommonly long for a site of this type.
Some of the girls who joined (and yes, they were mostly girls) were girls I talked to for years – as long as the site lasted, and beyond. I became particularly close to J.
Now, it’s not like I just jumped right into this, provided my name, age, and address, and virtually invited a potential child-molester to come assault me. In fact, I had no intentions of forming concrete friendships. It just sort of happened. As we grew to trust each other more, we talked more and shared more.
I grew up in a very conservative household, in a lot of ways. J, who is a year older than me, taught me to see the world in different ways. Growing up where I did, I sort of ran into the same people every day. And when it turned out that I wasn’t a conservative Christian, my relationship with her helped me to sort through that confusion.
Eventually, we started Skyping, and even though we both became busy with college and jobs, we remained close. And we’ve only gotten closer! In fact, she’s coming to spend New Year’s with me for our first physical-presence meeting, six years after we first met through a mutual love of writing.
I normally don’t advocate meeting online friends in person, not without a host of precautions (meeting in a public place, letting people know where you’re going, etc), but after six years, I’m pretty confident she’s not flying in to murder me in my room!
I’m beyond excited, and those who know about her (or some variation of the true story of how I met her) are probably sick of hearing me gush so much… but I guess that’s their problem!
Have you ever formed a close bond with someone over the internet? Did you ever meet them in person?