I don’t have to be the one to remind you that the world we live in nowadays is a digital one. Hell, you’re probably reading this on a phone screen or some other kind of tablet that’s yet to be invented. We were always told at school: ‘don’t talk to strangers’. It was practically drummed into us really, plastered all over walls, Powerpoint presentations and in campaign video after campaign video. However, I think our world has changed.
Don’t get me wrong: there are still a lot of horror stories surrounding online personas, with the term ‘catfish’ making its way into the media mainstream – through an MTV program of all things! For me though, without Twitter, I wouldn’t have some of the people in my life I deem as my best friends. I mean, even their slogan tells you to ‘discover’. All it takes is a few tweets back and forth about your similar interests and boom: a friendship is born. I see it all the time. Over my two twitter accounts (yes, two), I follow over a thousand people and I see so many of them message each other on a regular basis about their first time meeting, their future plans, seeing each other at concerts, etc. I know several people who can say their very best friend is someone they met online. It’s a lovely thing, especially knowing that I’ve had similar experiences.
It has been just over a year now since I started talking to Rachel. She’s not the first friend I’ve made online, but the two of us bonded significantly over a shared love of McFly, the 90s and the hit E4 drama series My Mad Fat Diary (don’t get us started on the subject of Nico Mirallegro’s bum or we’ll be here for hours). What started as a Twitter friendship turned into constant Whatsapp conversations and an eventual meet-up in her home town of Northampton. We even embarked on a trip to London to visit the Oasis convention ‘Chasing The Sun’ later that week, complete with pizza and a million selfies.
You could say it’s luck, but I’d say different. Social media has a way of bringing people together who enjoy the same taste in bands, TV shows, films etc. If you didn’t already agree with me, simply look at the trends that are boosted on a daily basis by the army of Directioners all over Twitter and Tumblr. Since meeting Rachel, I’ve made friends with and met in the flesh so many lovely people. We all share a love for McFly – not the coolest some would say – but I couldn’t do without them in my life. My local lovelies Beth and Katie, who I try and see as often as I can; an absolute gem from Stoke-on-Trent, Mollie; my favourite Irish leprechaun Rebecca, to name but a few (the rest of you, you know who you are). We try and meet up as often as possible over several Starbucks coffees and chat the day away – trust me, Beth and I have made really friends with the baristas, been given discount for being in one of our locals until closing time and they even know the correct spelling of my name now. I think we have a caffeine problem… I’m meeting my friend Tora for the first time next month when we see Olly Murs, despite talking to each other constantly for at least three, maybe even four years. In fact, my mom met my friend Roya, another girl I met through Twitter, not long after I did purely by chance and remarked how lovely a girl she was – small world, huh?
The Internet is a powerful thing. What I find most amazing is this: my best friend has used the internet to make friends and find people who have things in common with her due to her disability, and she’s all the better for having someone to talk to who knows and can properly understand.
You can see from this that, yes, I’ve met people from all over the place, but it’s not even that scary a thing anymore. I met a friend from up North last week at a concert and rather than being nervous about meeting him, my first thought was actually “bloody hell, you’re tall” – I even said this to his face. You could say I’m a weathered expert now. People at university sometimes remark or give me a funny look when I tell them how I’ve met some of my friends, but it doesn’t bother me anymore. It’s quite remarkable to me, in all honesty.
I don’t want this post to be seen as an advocation for meeting up with anyone and everyone you speak to and get on with via social networking sites: that’d be foolish and wrong of me. All I’m trying to say is, if you’re sensible about it, you might find some of the best friends you could possibly wish for – I know I have.
My twitter handle is @whatkirstiedid; follow me for more crappy tweets and ramblings.
Follow my friends on Twitter too, if you’re feeling kind:
Words by Kirstie Sutherland