A Girl’s Guide to Making Friends Online

Almost five years ago this month, I met an incredibly tall, handsome man from Wisconsin. We were both speaking at a high school retreat and our first meeting went a little something like this…
“Hi! I’m Laura. It’s nice to meet you!”
“Yeah, I know who you are.” … (Charming fella, right?) It took me another twenty-ish minutes to learn that this man’s name was Jon.
Jon is now one of my very best and dearest friends. His friendship is one of many that I’ve come to create and cultivate with help from the internet! Although we met in a (kind of) conventional way, our communication and knowledge of one another would not exist at the level that it does without the assistance of social media.
I met my friend, Meredith when I was fifteen years old. We were both lost, broken and trying to find a safe place to heal from some self-image wounds and other such teenageness. For us, that place was called LiveJournal. We both kept semi-regular blogs and were some of the other’s most devoted readers. Thirteen years later, Meredith and I have still never actually met but she is one of the most life giving people I know. We have seen each other through graduations, transformations, weddings (her’s) and every other thing that life has thrown at us. She is a supporter of the life and ministry that I lead without question on massive levels! She is a true soulfriend to me and I am forever thankful for her. This year is our year, I think. When I go to New England this spring, to visit some friends from college, I plan to have coffee with her for the first time and I am incredibly stoked!
Making friends with people on the internet is something that mothers the world over worry about. In fact, that’s probably for the best. I wouldn’t go spewing my social security number to strangers or telling them whereabouts I live or whatever, but, in the grand scheme of things, I wouldn’t do that on the street or in a coffee shop either. So here, instead, dear readers and friends is how I do it!
Having a solid gauge on who you are and your comfort level with strangers is key! Personally, I believe that strangers are friends you’ve just never met, and people that I’ve only met online become endearingly known as “friendstrangers”. Most of them have even been called that on occasion. But, most people I know aren’t like that, so, if you’re in a situation where someone you’ve never heard of, that has four friends adds you on a social media. JUST SAY NO! This could be potentially dangerous and most of the time it’s entirely creepy. Don’t do that!
I met my sweet friendstranger, Mr. Erik Bear on Facebook. Erik is a mutual friend of quite a few people that I know and he was fundraising for a trip around the time that I realized he existed. After reading his story and getting to know his heart awhile, I sent him a message asking if it wasweird that a stranger wanted to donate to his trip. He didn’t think it was strange at all! So, I did, and it turns out that Erik is actually a really decent, kind, wonderful human being who loves the Lord a ton! I am glad I know him.
From my friendship with Erik comes tip two! DO NOT send money to strangers. To be fair, I didn’t send it to him in an unmarked envelope or anything, nor does he have any sort of access to my banking information, I donated through a GoFundMe site and got to watch his dreams happen! Use your head, be safe!
In November, I walked in to a crowded bar full people that came to see some bands play. As I was wondering about, a now familiar face turned, lit up and smiled at me. This face was the face of my friend Spencer. Spencer and I met because his band (who’s social media life is, I think run by his brother) followed me on Twitter.
If you read my blog a few months ago in my music series “Listen To This!” that featured Whosah, you’ve heard this story. But, long story short, witty Twitter banter, Instagram commentary and Facebook friendship lead to his recognizing me, not particularly the way around. (Oops!)
This leads to my third and final tip! So, you’ve made a webfriend! You’ve maybe swapped phone numbers and texts at this point, or maybe you haven’t, whatever! But, make sure what you are in safe places when you meet people. I was at show with one of my best friends. It was a show that I knew Spencer’s band was playing but they were not actually what really brought me there. What brought me there was a drive with Kristen and some sweet memories. I am thankful that dancing to their music was the icing on the cake! But, be safe.
The internet can be an incredible place to find community and be loved well, but, understanding that nothing can top real community and genuine face-to-face interactions will help in the building of your online friendships. Don’t stay inside all day. Go out, make friends, laugh and be well! Life is awesome with people across the globe in it, but don’t forget to love the people down the street as well!

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