Myth: Only creepy middle-aged men with beards and uncontrollable sweat glands use social media, and all they use it for is to kidnap children.
Fact: There are other people — normal, nice people — on the Internet just like you.
Back in the early 2000s, pre-2005, when the Internet was still relatively new, an unconventional way of life was introduced to us common folk: social media. We first had MySpace which, let’s be real here, was kind of a joke. Next, the mother of all social media, Facebook, became as essential as food or water between 2007 and 2009. The creation of Facebook led to the brainchildren of the Internet: Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr. These three websites have especially impacted the second generation of Internet users. Our parents don’t understand how to work them, yet somehow every celebrity does. Naturally, we were drawn to them. September of 2013 is where our story begins, where the truth was uncovered for an impressionable young girl named Claire (that’s me by the way).
We all have secrets: guilty pleasures, secret obsessions, the lot. My biggest one is a Twitter account that I do not share with many people, which will (obviously) go unnamed to keep everyone from school not worth my time away from it. This account was and still is used to follow the whereabouts of members from the bands One Direction and 5SOS. Laugh all you want, but we all know that you’re probably watching this with a paused episode of Friends in the background that you’ve seen no less than eight times already. We all have our hobbies!
That September of 2013, I had no idea what I was supposed to do or what I was supposed to tweet, so I laid low and replied feverishly to everything Niall Horan published on the Internet. Then, that next summer, everything changed.
By this point I had come to the realization that there were tons of people just like me on that website. Girls and boys of all ages, races, shapes, sizes, and interests, but none of those things mattered. One day last summer, I was scrolling through my time line (newsfeed) when a mutual (someone who I follow and follows me back) tweeted about starting an iMessage group chat with people that liked 5SOS. I was a little skeptical since everything I believed about the Internet was built solely on the notion that everyone on the Internet wanted to kill me, so I scoped out the situation a little. I found a couple of selfies of the girl on her profile, and she tweeted just like I did. I didn’t see any reason not to try it.
“Before I made my Twitter account, I was only limited to the fifteen people in my class, fourteen of which can’t stand Taylor Swift (my idol/hero). But I started a fan account, and I found lots of people my age who loved Taylor.” — Michaela Click
So, I joined. I met four lovely English girls, one sweet Scottish girl, a beautiful girl form Virginia, and an amazing Australian. I no longer talk to them regularly, besides one, but I will forever treasure waking up at 2 am just to accommodate the time difference and laughing together.
Once that friendship came and went just like the summer, I took matters into my own hands and started a group message myself. August 29, 2014: What a day. I met my best friends on that day, and seventh months later, we are still close as ever. They came when I needed them most. My first year of high school was coming and coming fast. I had just had an extremely rough summer for numerous reasons, and things just didn’t seem to be going right; but, it all changed when I met them.
Disclaimer: I did not tell my mother about my activity on social media. DO NOT DO THIS. This is a very bad mistake to make. If you want to make friends through social media, please discuss it with your parents. If not before you do it, then immediately afterward. Bring them into casual conversation and FaceTime or Skype them with your parents around. Remember, your parents probably just learned how to use email within the past five years. Take it slow.
“My mom knows I have a Twitter, I just tell her about the people I meet and if she’s lucky she can meet themthrough FaceTime, Skype, etc. I mostly just drag her into a conversation about it because I never shut up about my Internet friends.” — Alli
“Telling her was simple. One day I was in a group video call and I went downstairs, showed my mom the phone and said, ‘Mom these are my friends. I met them on the Internet, say hi,’ and she did and she’s been cool with me having them, and she has even come with me to meet one before.” — Cailynne
People who say that Internet friends are not real are misinformed. The friends I have met on the Internet are without a doubt some of my best friends. This does not make my friends that I met through school inadequate; I simply see no difference. No matter where I met them, they’re still my best friends. It’s no one’s fault where their relatives decided to set up shop. That’s life, I guess.
“I traveled from New Jersey to Illinois to meet one of [my] best Internet friends, Claire. The feeling wasstrange. It didn’t hit me that I was actually meeting the person I’ve spent months talking to over text and video calls until I was down the street from her house. When I finally met her, I didn’t run up to her (like I should have), but I was so shocked she was standing right in front of me, and we hugged and fell to the ground, and it was one of the best moments of my life.” — Cailynne
No matter where you meet your best friends, they should still be able to be labeled as your best friends. I still laugh with them and tell them my secrets and give them birthday presents and stay up late and have dance parties. We just have to try a little harder, that’s all. My question for the people in our society that question the very basis of my social life is this: When did it become unacceptable to be reclusive on social media?