Making New Friends… Online

-By Laci Swann

Have you ever come across a particular person’s Instagram account, and you feel as though you know the ins and outs of their life, but you have yet to meet? You understand their sense of humor, and you know things about their family, too, but you have never actually met in person. When that particular person posts a selfie or a picture with their boyfriend, you’re quick to gas them up with a comment full of heart-face emojis or an inside joke you happen to share. As strange as that may sound to some, there’s actually a level of normalcy in this.

Social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram allow people the opportunity to get to know others, even form a friendship, so to speak, despite the act of meeting in person having yet to take place. Although this sounds bizarre, there’s an element of magic involved with having a social media bestie. The more I think about it, it’s like a new-age pen pal, minus the stamps, waiting time, and handwritten letter.

My husband is a professional basketball player in Europe which means we live overseas for the majority of the year. Living abroad for months on end may seem overwhelming, but I quickly got used to the expat life. I mean, living in Italy was not a difficult adjustment. Pasta, gelato, and fresh mozzarella are a dream come true, although my love handles would probably say otherwise. Then again, all the delicious carbs in the world can’t make up for the fact that my social life can be kind of dismal at times. Even though I’m an introvert, there are moments I really want to have couch time with my girlfriends or get dressed up and enjoy dinner and drinks with my best friends. The distance between us makes that damn near impossible though.

On the other hand, there are other basketball wives who make this adjustment less agonizing. The strange part is, though, many of us haven’t met. I have “friendships” with other wives and girlfriends in Europe whose partners play in the same league as my husband, and when I take a step back and think about our relationships, I realize that we have formed a bond without having met in person. I know about their kids, their struggles, their goals, and what makes them laugh and cry, yet we haven’t even enjoyed so much as a cup of coffee together. Not yet, anyway. These circumstances are super common outside of the sports world, too. I mean, just the other day, my best friend (like, my real, real best friend) told me about her new friend, Laura. She met Laura on Instagram after she stumbled across her page through a shared hashtag. They’ve been “friends” ever since, and she even sent Laura a gift for Christmas. However, Laura lives in Cali, and my friend lives in Florida, and I’m really not sure when or if they will meet in person. Nonetheless, they call each other friends.

Making friends online is a lot more normal than it sounds. We live in a digital world, and that means people have digital communities they connect with on a regular basis. Whether you’re shy, extremely busy, alone in a new city, or wanting to expand your social circle, the Internet is the new-age way to make friendships. Granted, you have to exercise discernment and be selective about who you open up your life to, but then again, that tends to be easy considering the amount of information we have at our fingertips to sift through. Women are the ultimate detectives, though; natural-born FBI agents. Chances are, we know everything we need to know about our online bestie before they actually reveal this information to us through conversation. So, discernment combined with a little investigative work tends to help us make good judgment calls on the people we meet online.

At the end of the day, friendship means being there for one another, not necessarily physically but emotionally. When you need someone to talk to, when you want to share a laugh, or you want to celebrate good news, your friend is there, and you’re there for her, too. You may not be in the physical presence of one another, but you can help each other grow through conversation and online interaction. A “long-distance” friendship is proof that there is no ceiling on the length or amount of love you can give someone without being in their presence. These types of friendships can be effortless, too, which is really encouraging in this day in age when people seem to throw their friendships to the wind.

I’ve helped my online bestie through heartbreak, outfit choices, and career decisions, and she has helped me with growing pains, motherhood challenges, and deciding on a filter that makes me look skinnier than I actually am (you know, the important stuff). As corny as this may sound, it all started online.

Give it a shot; make yourself emotionally available to make new friends (using discretion, of course). You never know – your online bestie may be a click away.

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