Internet friendships made during the pandemic are just as important as in-person ones
C/O Ben Collins/Unsplash
By: Anrya Foubert, Contributor
Friendships can be complicated and messy, but they can also be the greatest things to exist. The friends you have can bring you more joy than you ever thought possible.
Yet, during the pandemic and a large transition such as going to university for the first time, it can feel next to impossible to make friends and connections. But thanks to the internet, we are still able to spend time with people that we would be isolated from otherwise.
Many of us probably grew up with the message that “you shouldn’t talk to strangers online because it could be dangerous” from our parents or guardians.
But these days, internet friends are becoming more and more important as it connects others while we all have to remain home and provides us with ways to connect with people all around the world.
Of course, they can be just as important as real in-person friendships, but many people may believe this is not the case because internet friends can’t really interact physically.
The people you chat with online aren’t exactly people you can easily go to get food with, have a game night, bonfire or even just a general party. Since they likely live far away and you can’t really physically interact with them, internet friendships can feel less real. They can feel as if the person almost doesn’t really exist even if you know that they really do.
It may be the subliminal messaging many of us grew up with, the stories of catfishing and lying to others about who you are via the internet, that made us believe that internet friendships aren’t as “valid” or “real.”
However, many people are turning to internet friendships as a way to make new friends during the pandemic. As a first-year student, I haven’t been able to meet any of my classmates in person yet but I’ve been able to create connections with them online. It has still been weird that we haven’t gotten to see the people we spend large amounts of time with each week in person.
Even the people I’m moving in with later this year are people I haven’t met in person before. But I still am friends with those people and others because of the connection via the magical place we call the internet.
Platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter and Snapchat (to name a few) are amazing ways to meet new people. By using social media platforms, you can meet people that have similar interests to your own.
Some of my strongest friendships have been with people I met over the internet. I have a group of friends based in Australia while I reside in Canada and in all honesty, they are the type of people I have been trying to surround myself with for years.
I had long outgrown my peer group in high school and had ended up surrounding myself with not the best influences or most supportive people about halfway through Grade 11.
For some odd reason, these people I met online and only really started talking to on a regular basis at the beginning of quarantine have somehow been the most supportive people I have met and have helped me in more ways than they could ever possibly know. They are just as valued to me as those who are geographically closer to me and I’ve planned on visiting/going on exchange to Australia for some time.
Now I know that if I should go across the globe to study for a while, I will have people that I know there. While I won’t be able to meet them face-to-face for some time, I look forward to the day I can and I know that my friendship with them is valid, even if we can’t do things that in-person friends can.
It’s important to remember that outside of a pandemic, meeting people on the internet is still a completely valid and great way to foster new friendships. We may rely on it more now than ever due to global-scale lockdowns, but they still existed before and will continue to exist after the pandemic.