You FaceTime them, snapchat, text, maybe you even email them (although, email seems to have made a pretty permanent transition into a sort of business only platform). You tell them all your deepest and darkest secrets and they’re one of the first people you talk to after a very good or a very bad day. There’s just one little thing that differs from all the other best friendships out there: you’ve never met them in person!
The Internet has become quite the landscape for making deep connections. Through social networking, forums, and mobile apps, we become more connected to people who share similar interests, hobbies, and life experiences. These connections can carry over into more intimate one-on-one interactions, which can develop into genuine friendships.
Making friends online is less taboo these days. A 2015 Pew Research study showed that 57% of teenagers have made new friends online; while only 20% of those teens have met these new online friends IRL.
Online dating has been gaining even more popularity within the last few years with the ease of swiping right or left on dating apps. So there is no reason why online friendships shouldn’t work the same way. Of course, when it’s time to take the friendship offline, it should still be common sense to take precautions.
One golden rule to always keep in mind is to first meet in a highly populated, public place. If you’re visiting from far away, don’t plan on staying with this online friend; crash at an Airbnb or hotel (or somewhere your mother would feel sure you’d be safe). If your friend is visiting you from far away, kindly offer them suggestions for places to stay—don’t have them stay with you until you can be absolutely certain that they’re legit and when you feel comfortable having them over while you sleep (eek).
Meeting online friends offline can make for great memories and can be an excellent launching point for even stronger friendships. However, it’s not always possible, and that’s okay.
From personal experience, I’ve been lucky enough to meet so many people online through pop culture fandoms and social networks; I’ve been able to grow even closer to some of them in real life. But there are some that I have yet to meet, and others that I probably never will. That doesn’t keep me from still calling them my friends.
In short, if someone can meet their soulmate online, it’s certainly possible to meet your best friend there too. There may be some people who won’t understand, but as long as you’re feeling the connection, online friendships can be as real as offline friendships.
And who knows– these online friendship can become the best offline friendship of your lifetime!
If you haven’t already… Download the Hey! VINA app to meet some more friends online and then turn them into your very best vina.
(Feature image via Chibird)