In the dictionary, the following is the definition of the word friend:
1. a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard
Nowhere in there does it state that in order to regard someone as your friend you have to meet them face to face.
Since I could access the Internet in my early teens, I have been fascinated by how easy it was to talk to so many different people at once, from all over the world. I remember the excitement of logging on to my very first yahoo chat room with my friends, and connecting with these strangers. It was a brand new world, and there were so many things to learn and so many people to get to know.
I remember getting ICQ, my very first messenger. (how’s that for dating myself?). As I explored what the internet had to offer, and the colourful people around every bend, I began to develop connections with these people who were on the other side of the country, the other side of the world. I confided in those people, more than I did to the people physically present in my life. (Sometimes this is still the case.)
There are many naysayers that believe that just because you haven’t met someone face to face you cannot possibly have the same connection as those you meet “offline”. I disagree with this wholeheartedly. In numerous occasions those people who were on the other side of the screen were often the ones who would comfort me in times of need, make me laugh the hardest, let me vent about everything and never feel as though I had to hide who I was.
When I was 16 I was disconnecting from the world around me. Depression had taken hold, and I was living a nightmare in my head. I retreated into myself, and the first people who realized something was off, were people I had become close to in a little online forum about the paranormal. I had broken down, and told them I didn’t want to be on this earth anymore. They reacted right away, reached out and allowed me to fall to pieces. If people like that had not been around in my darkest times, I believe that I would not be writing this here today. There are many stories like that, all over the web.
We form a deeper bond with these people. These FRIENDS. Many of them feel more like family. So yes, Online Friends ARE Real Friends. And I am truly blessed to have met so many amazing souls over the years. I still talk to people I met online 16 years ago! So I refuse to buy into the idea that these people are just mere “people”. They encompass everything a true friend stands for. They are confidants. They are secret keepers. They are a source of joy, light and love. I am free to be who I really am. It’s a great feeling.
I look forward to meeting even more of these friends in the future! The world is a big and wonderful place. If we are only able to open our hearts and minds to the endless possibilities.