on finding friends online. with anawoza
online friendships usually make the headlines if someone ends up dead.
we hear so many horror stories through modern media that we get the perception of the internet being such a scary place. parents and teachers will tell you not to trust anyone that you’ve never met in person, which is probably the right thing to some aspects. however, the internet can also be a place where you can find likeminded people and potential best friends. if people get hired over linkedin, why shouldn't you find friends on instagram? according to pew research center’s “teens, technology and friendships,” 57 percent of teens have met a new friend online. so there is absolutely nothing weird about it anymore. I used to kind of shy away from the question "how did you guys meet?" because I grew up believing that meeting strangers online is not really accepted and people might not find it normal. but online friendships are a thing, and they're not some kind of niche thing anymore.
so why does every other person on tinder write "we can just say we met at the supermarket" in their bio? we are still kind of embarrassed of our online relationships at some times; but we shouldn't be.
let me tell you about my personal online love story. it all started with an instagram DM. I was about to move to NYC for a few months and somehow came across @anawoza’s instagram account. she lived in brooklyn, was wearing all black and generally seemed to be interested into the same things that I was. I liked her pictures, she liked mine, I followed her and she followed back. I eventually got the courage to DM her; awkwardly asking if she was up for maybe going for coffee or drink when I got to NYC. and she replied. and a few weeks later, we didn’t go for coffee, I met up with her, a complete stranger, and her friends at a bar and the rest is kind of history. meeting up with someone that I didn’t know was very unlike me, I think it was partially because I was in a different country not really knowing anyone. it was the decision that made my summer in NYC the best summer and I also made a best friend. so are people online really that scary?
B: what were your first thoughts when I DM’d you? did you think it was kind of weird for a stranger to just ask if you wanted to go for a coffee? A: I was super excited to see you reaching out to me after we just confessed our love for each other’s aesthetics over comments. and no not weird at all, being in the creative and blogger world in new york it's super normal for people to link up over the internet.
B: do you have a specific moment where I turned from an “online friend” to a “real” one? A: the moment I met you. I knew from the moment I saw you standing across the street in all black with your long blonde, pale green/blue ombre and smoking a cig that we were absolutely soulmates.
B: how do I even find people on instagram with the same interests as me? A: it all starts out with stalking haha, maybe a few hashtags? instagram is really good in showing you people that might have things in common and share the same interests.
B: how would you approach someone over instagram if you would like to meet them/hang out etc? is there any way to not make it awkward? A: slideeee into them DMs gurlll. haha jokes aside it's super normal to reach out to someone via email or DM. The beauty of 2016 is that you can connect with people all over the world.
B: how many friends did you make through social media? A: a few, I admit, I slide into some DM’s myself ;)
B: are they any different from friends you made offline? A: in a way yes because we share the same interests but the friends I make offline are also just as special to me because we have a natural connection.
B: what is a good (and safe) place to meet someone from social media? A: always meet someone from the internet in a public place, so coffee dates or brunch are always a good start.
B: what behavior do you think is sketchy if you’re talking to someone online? A: it's really easy nowadays to see who is fake and who isnt. I'm really good at lurking so that's what I do if I feel something is sketchy. and obviously don't talk to someone who has no (real) pictures.
B: did you ever have any really bad experiences with online friends? A: yeah, special friends, on tinder.
B: what is the best part about meeting people online? A: getting to meet people from all over the world! i've always been team internet and encourage everyone to make a friend or pen pal online because you never know what exciting journeys it could lead you in.
B: how do you keep in contact when you live far away from each other? A: FaceTime is a beautiful thing, also on snapchat I keep tabs on my hoes in different area codes.
B: so. do you think the internet is a scary place? A: not at all, the internet is a very beautiful place. from unleashing the funniest people out there with their memes we can all relate, to the blogs or video journals that bring out the creativity in all of us. I am inspired everyday with people I find or follow on the internet and because of the internet I am able to share my life with everyone through my creative eye.
so there you have it. I found one of my best friends online. ana lives in america, where people are generally a lot more open about social media than in germany where I live. I used to think finding friends online was kind of embarrassing and therefore talked my way around it. ana was always so cool about telling people that we met online and it made me realise how normal it really is. I found a special soulmate that I never would've had if I wasn't open to the idea of reaching out to people over social media. and while living a few thousand kilometres away from each other can be very annoying, having a best friend in NYC also has its perks. I would probably even visit her if she lived in north dakota (no offense to anyone living there, that's just the first thing that came to mind).
so go out (well..not literally obviously, you can stay in your bed) and find some online friends. they can be just as real. ana also has a youtube channel and this video is about the summer of 2015 where I met her:
love you ana!