"Don't talk to strangers."
That sentence right there is every parent's first bit of advice to their son or daughter. The outside world is scary and you should avoid anyone you don't already know. Stay in your insular bubble. Now, of course, I'm reaching a little bit here, but that's the general gist of things. In the year 2018, we talk to strangers on a daily basis through message boards, Discord servers, social media walls, et cetera. Heck, we even get in strangers' cars through ridesharing services because we trust them enough to not murder us. So, it turns out that little bit of advice has been made null and void.
I've met so many wonderful people being online. There are people I've met and had conversations with who live in far away places doing things that I didn't even know were things. I talked to a guy who was apparently a Junior Olympic handball player. I didn't know handball was even a sport! That's something so trivial and minor. When I was fifteen and I had big dreams of becoming a voice actor, I met with a lot of kids who had similar goals and dreams to me. And that was how I became a part of my first real online community, just by reaching out to other people like me. Before long I found myself the member of a bunch of different online communities, spreading my online presence to the far reaches of the globe.
Flash forward to today, and I spend most of my time online. I've got several groups of friends who live across the country and in some cases across the world. Some of these people I've met and others I don't think I will ever meet, but that doesn't cheapen the real conversations we have about life and other topics. I spend so much time with them that I would consider a lot of them to be incredibly close friends. Even without the important step of meeting the person, I can have a meaningful relationship with someone who is too far away for me to drive to. They still care about how I'm doing. They remember when my birthday is better than people on Facebook who get a notification about it. I love my online friends and I consider them real friends despite what most people would say. I feel like I understand them more because there's not this layer of physical communication that real-world friends have to navigate. They say what they mean.
Overall, there are so many benefits to talking to strangers these days. They're just another friend that you haven't made yet. In this great big Internet world, you shouldn't be limited to the people who live in your hometown; there are so many people out there who like all the same things as you do and they're just waiting for you to make the first move.