Saturday, May 26, 2012

Internet friends

I often hear people decry time spent online as taking away from "real" relationships. I was reminded of that again this morning as our house and church basement are full of young people who we almost certainly would not have known without the internet.

These are my daughter's best friends. She met them ten and more years ago. They live in Wisconsin, Texas, Indiana, and Ohio. When she first started getting to know them we lived in Illinois. I originally met all of their parents online through a homeschool email list or two.  During their high school years they kept in touch via email and chat, seeing each other a couple of times a year. She has been lucky enough to live in the same town as one or two of them for a year here and there, but if they hadn't already known each other, their paths wouldn't likely have crossed. Due to the cliquish nature of the homeschool community we found when we moved to Fort Wayne, the hours she spent chatting and emailing kept her from being a very lonely girl.

Earlier this week my friend Jenny was here from central Illinois with her husband and daughter. I met Jenny on an email list a few years ago, and, when she came with a group of other moms for a visit, she met Bethany and decided that her brother needed to, too. So she brought him for a visit. Bethany and Evan kept in touch while he was in Iraq. Now they are looking toward their first anniversary in August and their first child in September. He graduated from college in Minnesota and was in the army. She graduated from college in Indiana and was working as a paralegal. But for the internet, their paths weren't likely to cross.

Email and message board friends saved us in the early years of homeschooling when I had no in-person homeschooling contacts. Most of my closest friendships have come about because of the internet. And old friendships have been renewed through Facebook. And even local friendships are enriched by sharing pictures, activities, and the little ups and downs online.

I have lots of in-person friends and "real-life" activities, but the value of the time that I've spent online--from the early social network of AOL, to later message boards and email lists, to Facebook and Twitter now--has paid me richly in relationships and quality added to our lives.


Susan said...

Hey, you! Making my eyes get full of tears....

By the way, would you mind telling one of the el-shrimpos that her pumpkins have sprouted? Alia and I dug and planted on the day her mommy was supervising the movers. I peeked around the corner of the garage when I came home from work today. The seedlings are up and looking strong and healthy!

Jane said...

I will tell her. It is so cute to see her playing with DoRena and Naomi's girls. And Alia likes Mr. Casey, perhaps because he looks like her grandpa. :)

Susan said...


Elephantschild said...

Amen. The online connections that I've made have saved my life living in an isolated area. I am so thankful for the internet!

RPW said...

I was driving with the president of our congregation one day, and he was bemoaning that his son texted with his friends so much, and by email, etc.(his son is 30...its not one of those parental teenage griping things). I told him "I sometimes get concerned about that, too (I didn't tell him that it was my main form of interaction with people). Sometimes I wonder if there is something wrong with communicating that way, or whether Chris is good at communicating the way people now communicate." He said "You know, I never looked at it that way."

I would've gone insane without the internet. I have always done better on computers than in person, even when I was much less of a hermit than I am now...right down to being the only (twelve year-old) girl on bulletin board systems back when they existed...pre-Al Gore's internet ;)

I am so thankful for my internet friends, and that I can be somewhere where I can be with them in person, as well.