I’ve been on the internet for years, and I don’t particularly see an issue with that. My parents gave me freedom with the web, they trusted me and let me figure out for myself the good and the bad that came with the internet. I consider myself a good person, I do well in school, I’m well-adjusted, I treat others kindly, I haven’t really done any “bad things.”
My first experience communicating with other people online came from Neopets in the 5th grade. There I made neofriends, and we would send neomails and take care of each other’s neopets, trading items and playing games together. We formed guilds and generally, we had a lot of fun! My parents didn’t mind that I was talking to people online, they trusted my judgement and knew I would never give out personal information, and I didn’t. To all my friends out there, I was bloobee_bopeep. I didn’t know their names either, just usernames, and none of us minded.
We stayed friends all through middle school, even though we grew out of Neopets we still kept in touch through Skype. At this point, there were only three of us and we were totally comfortable with first names, we were a trio of Matt, Julie, and Ali. Even my parents knew who they were, and they would ask me questions sometimes like “How’s Matt and Julie?” and whatnot. I still had other friends and my life didn’t revolve around these people, but it was still always nice to come home from a long day at school to talk to them about my day while listening to them talk about theirs.
I can’t pinpoint the exact moment our friendship fell apart. Julie was the first to leave, signing on less and less frequently and for smaller intervals. Eventually she said she was too busy with school and that was that. It was just Matt and I until it wasn’t. Life moves on.
Internet friendships are so so important for me. They don’t last forever, but neither do other friendships. I hear people be so critical sometimes, saying things like “friendships don’t count if they’re online” and that’s harsh, why isn’t a friendship real just because it’s through a screen? I saw that one of the discussion questions for this week was asking about how we would be social if there was no social media, and honestly I don’t think I would be all that social. I prefer talking to people online. It’s not that I can’t talk to people offline, I do, but I also like being able to talk to people online. That’s how I communicate with most of my friends and we’re all comfortable with that. Without social media, I would probably do whatever it was I needed to, talk to the people I needed to, do what it was that would be expected of me. But I wouldn’t have that outlet that social media provides. I wouldn’t be able to just take a breather and relax in bed with my laptop while skyping with my best friend on the other side of the world.
The internet does so much for us, and I don’t understand why there has to be this division between online and in-person communication. They’re different things, yes, but they’re both means of communication and there isn’t a standard “better” or “worse” method, only what the people in question enjoy.