Many times when people don’t understand something, they become afraid of it. The fear of the unknown seems to be a human characteristic that all of us have to some extent. I’ve noticed this is very relevant when it comes to online relationships and social media. You would think that by now, almost everyone would feel comfortable on Facebook, Twitter and other social sites. However, that is not the case. There are still many people out there who are very fearful about social media and meeting new friends online.
I’m writing this article for all those people who are still skeptical about whether or not genuine friendships can be built online. This is also for those people who wonder if social media is worth the all the time and effort. When I first opened a Twitter account in March of 2009, I met Misty. We started tweeting each other every day, listening to music online together and having fun. We became friends quickly. A month after Bit Rebels launched, Misty invited me to be a writer here. Our friendship continued to grow, and we started not only tweeting, but talking on DM every day. We also connected on Facebook. We talked about everything from cute boys to business strategies. We also talked about meeting, but for whatever reason, it never worked out.
Fast forward to last weekend. Now that Misty moved from the Philippines to Cincinnati, I decided to drive 8 hours to her apartment to visit her. My offline friends who are not in social media immediately went into that fearful mode. They said things like, “What if she isn’t a woman? You don’t really know this person. What you are doing is dangerous.” I’m the first one to admit that taking safety precautions online is important, of course. However, if you are like me, your online life is your “real life.” There is no separation there. Relationships are built online the same way they are offline, and they are just as real.
I got to Cincinnati, and I met my Twitter BFF finally. It was a long time coming, and we had the best girls weekend ever. Since she’s only lived in the States for a month, I was able to introduce her to some American traditions like frozen pizza, string cheese and Twinkies. I also took her on her first trip to Target, and ladies, you know how much fun a girls Target shopping trip can be.
Misty and I will be close friends forever. I know that to be true. Even though we’ve only met once, we are as close as any two friends could be. When we met, it was like we had known each other for a long time, which we had, only online. My friendship with her is priceless to me, and it is just one of the many reasons why I love social media. I know that we’ve all heard the horror stories of online relationships gone wrong. However, those things happen just the same offline. You practice the same common sense in either situation. You know what the right thing to do is.
If you have a friend who you have built a friendship with online that you’ve wanted to see face-to-face, as long as you’ve taken the time to develop that friendship, I want to encourage you to do it! Don’t let people around you who know nothing about the dynamics of social media scare you or put their fear into you. I treasure my online friendships very much, and I keep them close to my heart. Below are some pictures from my trip.
I asked Misty for her opinion about this topic, and this is what she said, “I have always written about my interest in social media, and I am truly grateful that I got involved in Facebook, Twitter and of course blogging. I am so glad to have made so many wonderful friends in social media. Meeting in real life can really bring your friendship to the next level. Diana and I don’t treat each other as friends but as sisters. I guess the lesson I see here is that if you have the chance to meet people you converse with on Twitter or Facebook, do it! Have fun, share stories, dine out, go shopping and take lots of pictures. This was definitely one precious experience that I will look back on and say I’m glad I did. I’m looking forward to the next time when we can again enjoy sight seeing, tons of conversations and lots of laughter!” Maybe you’ve had a similar experience that you would like to share with us, if so, please leave us a comment below.
Header Image Credit: [Lorelyn Medina / Shutterstock]