I was introduced to the internet in 1994, my freshman year of high school. I didn’t understand much of it, and I usually watched Marilyn Manson videos and printed out pictures to put on my wall or to make collages out of. I got my first cell phone when I was 23 years old, and it had very little service, I couldn’t text, take pictures or do anything other than call and pick ringtones which was very exciting to have a gadget that I could personalize. I bought my first computer when I was 25, a single mother, living alone in Colorado, working two jobs and going to college part time. It was huge and bulky and of course dial up internet! I was introduced to Myspace then and was able to keep in touch with my family and friends back home in a new way other than our phones.

But then there was the curiosity of who else is out there? Seeing commercials and ads for dating sites and how to meet people who are just like ME only encouraged me to search for others, so I wouldn’t feel alone. I had a few profiles up on some dating sites, being only 25 and single, I wasn’t ready to settle down, but I was looking for company.

I will admit I talked to several people online, but I only had the guts to go meet one person in real life. She became an instant friend and is still an “online friend” today. But I wanted to go home, to be with my family, my real friends and with people who I grew up with.

Coming home was the best thing I did, even though I immediately got into a bad relationship, I made it through and had a second daughter.

I kept in contact with friends online through Myspace and I still had my dating profiles. I blogged almost daily, sometimes two or three times a day or more. I had then upgraded to a phone that took pictures, a digital camera, and my minivan had a dvd player!! I was one cool mom!

I met a guy at a bar one night. We drank and laughed and I really, really liked him, but we were rushed out the door when 2 a.m. came and somehow, I ended up in the backseat of my friends car and he was in the back of a taxi. The next morning, the night before was a blur but I remembered, his name, 29 years old and where he was from. All I had to do was search on Myspace with the little information he gave me and I found him with in seconds and sent him a message. “I may have been drunk, but I recognize that tattoo!” I said. Which was true because he had just had a half sleeve done, and it was his profile picture. Easy to find, and he says I stalked him.

From then on the conversation kept going and numbers exchanged and dates began and six years later we are still together! If it wasn’t for a social network, I may have never seen him again and my life would be totally different than it is today. And if it wasn’t for being still half drunk the next morning and having the courage to message him, I may not of.

After we made that step to be together and not see anyone else we both deleted all of our profiles that were on dating sites, as he was single too before we met. It was done! No more strangers! But then there came the Moms!!!

I no longer needed to search for a date, but now I was needing a friend. My husband worked out of town a lot and I was in a new city with few friends and some family. Then the ads got me again! CafeMom a place for other mothers who were just like ME!! I joined and instantly found a local play date group! I chatted with them online for like a year before I actually went out and did a play date. I was nervous to meet new people in person, yet meeting them online was pretty easy. If it wasn’t for the owner of the group spotting me in the library one day, only recognizing me from my pictures online, and inviting me to McDonald’s for lunch with the rest of them, I probably would of never went to a play date. It took me time to come around, I was pregnant, and had 3 kids already, hubby one and I had two, and I was shy for some reason!! Until I wasn’t pregnant anymore and joined them in a Mom’s Night Out, where my true colors were shown to all the moms through jagerbombs and budlights!! That was a fun night and even though I had only hung out with them a few times they took care of me and safely brought me home to my husband.

Some of us still get together when we can, our kids are all older, as it has been about 5 years now. And if it wasn’t for a social network then I would of never met some good friends that I still talk with today.

But then there were the new friends who didn’t live close to me. I joined other groups that interested me on Cafemom and made some friends who I didn’t have to go hang out with and I could hang out with them online. We played games and had contests and all kinds of fun stuff on certain groups.

I signed up for Facebook in 2007 yet didn’t start getting any feed there until 2009 when one day I had like 30 emails that I had friend requests on Facebook. I was still using Myspace, but slowly made the change as everyone else did to from one big social network to the new social network. I was able to find people that were not on Myspace and connect with all of my high school classmates and not just some of them. Now I have family that I have never met before in life, but they are on my friends list on Facebook. I am able to get to know family I never thought I would ever know, due to a social network.

Through Facebook I was able to connect with everyone from all the other social networks all in one network. People I knew and people I hadn’t ever met yet felt like I knew them because we had been interacting with each other for years now.

So where does one decide that someone is their friend, even if they have never met in person? I have met several, mostly other moms, online only, who have been awesome friends. They have seen me have kids, raising my family. They have helped me through rough times and laughed with me in good times, yet all online. I have never heard their voice in my ears. I have never physically touched them. Yet I know so much about them and they know so much about me that we consider each other friends, or “online friends”.

And these people are humans just like me, some have upset me and its is rather easy to unfriend them through a button than having an argument with them through a keyboard. So how can they be your friend, but yet easy to unfriend just because you never met them?

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In this society today life is crazy, and we are all intertwined, connected and strung together like a spiderweb, sharing all our personal thoughts with everyone out there, not just a friend down the road like I did when I was younger, or in a private spiral journal that I carried around hiding from everyone. Now I can say what I want, when I want and everyone will see it, not hear it. I can make people mad, I can make people happy all through my fingertips. A simple unread message can make an “online friend” question their friendship, and a simple emoticon can change a persons mood for the rest of the day. All your status’ affect everyone who sees it, whether they care for it or not, they read what you were doing and know about your life. Friends I had in high school do not talk to me much anymore, but people I went to high school with that I didn’t talk to then, I am closer with now.

Don’t you hate it when you go to tell someone something that happened in your day and they say, “Oh, yeah, I saw that on Facebook.” I know I do, yet it doesn’t stop me from sharing my life with everyone. I try to keep most personal stuff off of Facebook and social networks, and now that I am older and I am more confident with myself, if I put it out there, I better be able to back it up when I am confronted. So I try to keep a friendly “online friend” vibe with those whom I once knew and have grown apart from, and those whom I have never met yet know me just as well as any friend does. I do know that I do not have to go searching for a friend anymore. I have my love, I have my family, I have my real life friends and my online friends. Which who knows, we may bump into each other one day on accident and then a true personal friendship can blossom.

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