I’ve built a wider circle of online friends since COVID-19. For someone who lives with social anxiety, having online friends is a real blessing. It allows me to connect with others and access the outside world without leaving my home. In fact, my online friends have grown increasingly vital to my well-being. Despite the pandemic, when everything around me was not the same anymore, there was no need to make any changes to my online friendships. Things were the same for us because we have always communicated online. The difference was that, during a lockdown, we had more time to spend on each other since we were all stuck at home. We communicated almost every day through video calls, texting, online games, and late-night chatting, to cope with what was happening to the world.
Many people are so cautious of online friends. They are worried that the bond isn’t as genuine or as deep as it is with our real-life friends. Well, I personally have some unpleasant stories, but I’ve also been incredibly fortunate to meet wonderful people online. They gave me really pleasant experiences. In fact, several good friends of mine are actually people I met online first before we met in person. They’re also the best people I’ve ever known in my life. It’s cool, isn’t it? How technology and the internet can and have brought people together, no matter how far apart we live from each other. Yes, online friendships have their limits, but they are still friendships nonetheless and I will always value them. Here’s why:
The friendships started based on instant connections.
Back then, in my teens, my social life was at its peak. My energy level was at its highest when I was around people, and I had an uncanny capacity to make new friends wherever I went. These aspects of me no longer exist. As I grew older, I became more introverted and reserved and somehow developed social anxiety. I dislike being around people, especially strangers, with whom I don’t even bother to engage in conversation, let alone become friends. When it comes to the internet, it’s different. I get to choose with who I want to talk, and it is often based on something that is connected to my interests or my personality, which often leads to instant connections. In real life, many friendships are formed through mutual friends. You share a familiar circle of friends, but do you share common interests? That’s often not guaranteed. Furthermore, being around strangers has always forced me to get involved in small talk, which I hate because it’s extremely draining. This is why I prefer to start a friendship online because it frees me from that kind of pressure. If I want to talk, I’ll talk; if I don’t, I don’t have to force myself.
I feel emotionally closer to my online friends than my “offline” friends.
Friends around me barely know much about what’s going on in my life because I don’t feel comfortable enough talking about it with them. We are in the same social circle, and words can travel. I hate it when everyone knows about my business. This is why I have an emotional bond with my online friends. I feel more comfortable opening up to them. After all, they can’t tell anyone else what I tell them; hence, it often ends with them. Nobody else in my life will know.
A lot of my online friends gave me really pleasant experiences.
As online friends, we get involved with each other; there are no social dynamics interfering, and communication is based on pure friendship. Let me tell you this: I have a good friend who I refer to as “my brother” because he’s like my own family; we actually met online and chatted for 3 years before deciding to meet; by now we have known each other for more than 7 years. He is very protective of me due to the fact that he knows me very well. I believe he’s the only person I know who can read me. Same as a good friend of mine who lives in Poland, Maciek. We have known each other for a decade! He was there for me during my difficult times and frequently checked in on me until these days. Jimmy, my online gaming buddy, if you read this, thank you for being so nice and supportive for the past 5 years. Too bad I don’t play video games anymore. Haha. Speaking about pure friendships, this is precisely why I want to say how utterly grateful I am for my online friends.
I value my online friends as much as my real ones.
Just because we can’t hang out in person doesn’t mean our friendship is fake. For my part, regardless of how long we’ve known each other online, I value each of them as my real ones. As long as I like them, they are nice to me and respect me, so I’ll keep them in my life. To be honest, I tend to favor online friendships because I have the opportunity to be present and spend quality time with them more often than I can with my real-life friends. If I ever get the chance, I’d love to meet them in person.
We Talked And Shared About Each Other Before We Meet In Person.
As I mentioned above, I get to choose with whom I want to chat when it comes to online friends. Every online friend I have right now has strong values and I know them to be real people with amazing careers and reputations. Some of them I have met in person, while others I have not. What I like about getting to know someone online first is that we have a length of time to talk and get to know each other before meeting in person. Because I knew we had already talked online, I don’t feel as awkward as I do when I’m around strangers. I might not know everything about them, but I knew we shared a common interest. At first glance, it sounds like a disadvantage, but knowing less about someone gives you the space to get to know them in a much deeper and unbiased way.
They are my biggest supporter.
Surprisingly, my readers, gaming buddies, Instagram followers, and people I met on apps and websites who became friends with me are my biggest supporters. Regardless of the fact that we didn’t know each other in person, they never stopped encouraging me; they give me compliments, support me, motivate me, and constantly feed me with positive words. They also give me ideas and advice when I need help on specific topics.
I feel happy when I talk to my Online friends.
I don’t have many friends around me that can truly understand my world. I am so different from everyone else. My way of thinking, living, having interests, and so on are not the same. Technically, I don’t have anyone to talk to about things I enjoy doing with my real-life friends. Even if I do, they will not understand what I am saying. This is why I enjoy talking to my online friends because it’s beneficial for my mental health and well-being since we share common interests. I can talk about Formula 1, the kind of music I listen to, the movies and shows that I watched, the games I played, sim racing, writing, photography, and many more things. I feel more connected to them than to anyone else around me.
If you are one of my online friends and happened to come across this post, thank you for being so nice to me. I really appreciate it. X. Hani