Sourced answers from friends on the internet, about internet friends. Real classy, Gabbie.
Internet Friends: people you met solely on the internet, and then you decided “hey, they’re pretty cool”, so they’re now your friend. I genuinely love internet friendships. I’ve made numerous friends over the internet, which isn’t to say that I’m such a cool girl, because if you met me in 2017, nope… but that’s also the thing, internet friendships aren’t only for ‘losers’! But I get it, having friends that you met online (and sometimes only know online) seem a bit iffy. But according to our Instagram questionnaire, I’m not the only one making friends on the net.
Why would you be willing to talk to a stranger, when we were told all our lives not to?!
A general disclaimer: if you are aware of that stranger danger shit, and are fairly wary about predators, then navigating the internet and making friends online isn’t so bad! The thing is, with the distance the internet provides, the physical precautions of being kidnapped are not the same. If you know you’re talking to a legit person, and they don’t ever ask you to do anything uncomfortable—or felonising—then you’re okay. It’s not as scary as online dating, but just don’t share any personal information, bank information, etc., you know the drill. One respondent told me that the best part about making friends online is that essence of anonymity you both have (to a degree): “you kinda get a fresh start with them” they noted, which contrasts with people IRL, who usually “know you already or know you because of other people”. Another respondent states that chatting online “can make it easier… because of that anonymity, so you can open up more. But at the same time [you] gotta keep safe online, so its kind of a balancing act… just like penpals”. Internet friends know you only by face and what you like, but they can have a whole new perspective on you when they meet you, and being able to make first impressions is always great, right?
So, they’re not for losers, but where exactly did you meet?
Many places! But let’s start in 2011. Growing up in the age of Tumblr and fan accounts, people were hidden behind a username but united by one common interest. I had a Tumblr account for Logan Lerman and of course, Taylor Swift. These two white gods ruled my universe and I met good friends from it. When I was twelve, a friend of mine asked me if I was on Tumblr, because she saw my Logan-Lerman-flower-crown-edit, and I said yes. We exchanged blog follows, and it turns out she was also a Swiftie and head over heels for another 2010-famous blue-eyed white boy on Tumblr. I know we didn’t technically meet online but our first real interaction was because of it, and through it. A respondent from the survey said that she had a Harry Potter fan account and the friends she gained from it are still her friends now.
In this day and age, you can meet internet friends through Instagram. I met Naomii (yes, Craccum Co-Editor, Naomii) through Instagram. I just followed her because we had mutuals, and she seemed so cool so I thought why not. She followed back. I commented on one of her photos, “Kween! Step off my neck !!” and then we became friends. Now we work together too! This formula is usually my go to for my girls, gays, and theys. I love hyping up people I admire, even if I’ve never met them. It’s a good way to know that they have some sort of support out there. They don’t care if you look lame by reaching out since you’ve never met, because it’s just nice to encourage people to make strides.
Would you ever openly admit you have an internet friend though?
One respondent says they’ve only started admitting they had internet friends after high school. Another says “it can be a bit embarrassing when, like, talking to your parents or something about it. But in my experience talking to my peers it’s pretty normal and accepted,” so it really varies.
But probably not high school me, mainly because there’s a stigma to being such good friends you met online: you seem naive or like a loser, who can’t make an actual human connection, thus, you resort to the internet. Though, now, I couldn’t care less. Most of my best mates are from the internet. It’s the digital age, it’s 2022, it’s cool.
I grew up really conscious of posting anything of myself, because of the way guys—or even some relatives—would comment about it behind my back, but then my girls always show up. They just comment whatever and sometimes I’ve never met them, we just share a mutual admiration. They make me feel great, and I love that reaction. So, we turn it into a motion! I realise this is something I enjoy doing. Even if you’re replying to a story or commenting on a post, why let shyness stop you? Some evil people will say it’s so fake of you, but if you genuinely agree with what you’re commenting—but no hate-mail here!—then I don’t see why that’s fake. Plus, it’s a great way to meet people, to network, and for them to get the unstated vibe that you are a girl’s girl, a bae’s bae, a keeper of the poster’s safe-space, and that is always a good thing.
Okay, so if they’re not so lame, prove it then?
In the IG story questionnaire I did, all responses were positive. Yes, all. Responses included “most of my best friends are from the internet”, “I’m literally flying out to Sydney in three weeks to meet friends from the internet”, “I don’t care if they’re from the internet, they’re just great people”, and of course the classic: “it’s 2022, so definitely, yeah, it’s allowed. And it’s not embarrassing, no”. So, there you have it, folks.