Ah, the Internet. The place our parents warned us about because of good ol’ stranger danger. And true, there are some terrible people lurking about online, but that doesn't make every person a predator in disguise. I've actually met some pretty amazing people online. Heck, one of them ended up being my best friend.
During my awkward phase (better known as sophomore year of high school), I wasn't much of a social butterfly. Sure, I had a few friends, but I was in no way Miss Popularity. I was really into writing though and one day stumbled upon a writing site for teens thanks to one accidental click on an ad.
On this site I did actually do a fair bit of writing. However, the best part of the site was all these welcoming people eager to talk to me each day and hear about life in my part of the world. One person in particular ended up having the strongest bond with me. The funny part is, I can't even remember exactly how we met. I just remember how he was always available to talk no matter what time it was or how pointless my rants were.
Eventually we swapped emails (I know, that's a big no-no when it comes to strangers online, but oh well) so we could talk more freely about personal problems and help each other figure out life. And if you thought emailing was scandalous, you'll be shocked to know at some point we decided texting would be even more convenient than emailing.
This friendship started four years ago, and I can still easily call him my best friend. He's been there through all my ups and downs, and not once has he tried to back out of the friendship or think that maybe I'm not worth the effort. Lord only knows where I'd be without him around to keep me sane. So I do my best to help him the same way he's helped me, but there's only so much I can do from about 700 miles away.
For some reason though, when I tell people I met my best friend online, they go off on a tangent about Internet safety. Yes, I understand that one should be careful when talking to people online. Yes, I know sharing things like email addresses and phone numbers can be risky. No, not every person online is a predator. That stigma is one that needs to end. The friends I made via the Internet are just as good as, if not better than, the friends I made at school.
I truly don't understand what sends people into a panic over meeting people online. It's not like I set up a meeting with my friend (though, it would be pretty awesome to actually meet him and hang out); we talk just like any other best friends do. We talk about music and family and movies and life and anything else we can think of. It's just like anyone else's friendship.
So I have to ask: what do people have against Internet friendships? What exactly makes them so taboo? Honestly, the only difference between Internet and "real life" friendships is the barrier of a computer screen.