I’ve found friends…

Who are these people?

Happy Tuesday! I didn’t want to disappoint, so here I am.

Tea of the day: Orange & Spice
Brand: RC Bigelow (part of a variety box I bought, perhaps those will be the first 6 teas…? If I don’t drink them all before then!)
Color: Dark! It looks almost like it would be a pomegranate flavor instead of orange. Maybe they are blood oranges!
Taste: It’s definitely calming. I expected it to have more bite with the orange and spice flavors, and instead it’s a pleasant chai like flavor.
Ideas for next time I have this: Maybe get a pirouette cookie OR add some milk to make a latte.

Fun Fact! This tea is Gluten Free!! Haha, I just looked on the back of the tea bag, saw that, and thought, “Makes sense.”

I thought a lot this week about all the friends I have and it got me reflecting on how I “met” everyone. You’ll find out the reason behind the quotations in the next few paragraphs. When I realized who the people I spend a lot of time talking to are some individuals that I’ve never met in real life, it really shocked me. Why would the origination of friends shock me?

When I was 13, I got an email from someone named Missy. She lived in Texas, and I had no idea who she was. Being the outgoing person I am, I thought to myself, “Oh! Another girl! I wonder what she’s like.” I emailed back and don’t remember the exact details of what my message included. I did receive a response from her. She was 16 (so she’d be 32 now) and said that if I wanted to know about boys that she would help me and we could talk about it. I think our email relationship lasted all of 5 messages total because my mom asked me who I was emailing. “This girl Missy. She lives in Texas.” And there went email privileges. Don’t remember how long, but I also wasn’t allowed on the internet without one of my parents in the room for a loooooonnng time. At church youth group, I was made an example of (in a lesson sort of way) and still didn’t quite understand the sin of my transgressions. I was young, naive, excited at the possibility of a new friend, and wanted a boyfriend!

Now as a 29-year-old woman. I see what should have been my first clue. It wasn’t the she was older. It wasn’t that she would “help me with boys.” It was the simple fact that someone I didn’t know was emailing me. Even to this day, I don’t respond to emails from anyone that I don’t recognize or that I didn’t personally give me email address.

Ironic fact! A good portion of my friends that I talk to weekly… I “met” online! 

When reflecting on this, I thought the experience I had as a 13-year-old girl would have negatively shaped my desire to meet and engage with people virtually. Perhaps, this is where my rebelliousness arose. And not the type of rebelliousness that is teepee-ing house (although I did that once) or staying out past curfew (again, once), but a rebelliousness that was rooted in my fascination with meeting and learning about new people.

At 16, I secretly made a Myspace account. Anyone remember, or better yet have, Myspace? When I was caught, my claim and confession was to keep in touch with friends back in California after we moved. That was acceptable, thank goodness. At 18, I made my Facebook account. ACTUALLY, I made my Facebook account 11 years ago TODAY! 

My first real friend that I met online is someone who didn’t even live in the same country as me! And now we have met in person. She is aMAZing! We met through Instagram when I first started getting into the Milso (military Significant Other) community online. I posted a picture with no location and she knew it! She was born there! Turns out our lives had way more parallels that either of us probably knew when I friendship first started. We were dating sailors in the US Navy, both had masters degrees, and enjoyed similar activities. We someone managed to stay in touch enough over the course of 5 months that we met for dinner when I first visited my husband (then boyfriend) the first time in Italy. That was almost a year ago.

*Technically, I met my first person online when I was 18 through Yahoo dating, but those aren’t the type of friends I want to talk about here. 

I’ve “met” mostly women through the Milso communities on Instagram and Facebook. I’m part of more groups that I care to admit. They started as general Milso groups and have ventured into location specific ones where my husband is located. I met a fellow Navy wife who lived in the same town as me, even went to the same high school, and another who is stationed in Japan. Well, two in Japan now! One girl and I bonded over our long distance romances. She was going through a process I knew was in my future, and that we both love the Dodgers. My wedding day coincidentally ended up being on the one-year anniversary that she left the US to join her husband. The other person I talk to most often became a close friend also through long distance relationship woes. We even sent each other small gifts for Christmas last year.

Then I realized…. I met my husband online! We met on Match.com. Ditching the free sites (which aren’t terrible, I did have some good experiences) and paying for a membership was the best reluctant decision I’ve ever made. He truly is my other half. A better partner for me does not exist. He makes up everything that I lack and is everything I never even knew I could ask for.

So what makes the friends I’ve made in the last 18 months different than Missy? Here’s why I think meeting people online has changed so much in the last 16 years. At least the last 16 years for me.

  1. I never saw a picture of Missy. I’ve seen SEVERAL pictures of the people I consider friends now.
  2. Technology has come a long way. I may not have met a lot of these women in person, but I have spoken with them through everything possible.
  3. I’m a google stalker. And Facebook stalker. And Instagram stalker.
  4. I do more research before accepting someone’s claim at face value. I’m not saying I’ve received outlandish proposals or anything, but if what’s on their profiles doesn’t match up, I don’t talk to them. I HAVE run into fake profiles of people claiming to be a milso.
  5. I am picky of who I talk with. As a rule, I don’t accept friend requests from someone who didn’t ask or I don’t know in person, except some of my husband’s extended family. I only accept requests and ask to request women a) an ability to advise on a topic they’re asking about or b) we share similar interests and ideas.

I’m so grateful for these friends. I literally have a friend who is awake at EVERY time of day because we are spread out over so many different time zones and countries.

What would I tell 13-year-old me? Don’t talk to strangers that you can’t see their face, even if it’s on a computer screen, and even then be cautious. You don’t have to talk to everyone.

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