I Never Thought I Would Have Internet Friends

When I was in Grade 6, MSN Messenger was starting to become really popular among my classmates. My head is still recovering from the incessant whines of, “Do you have MSN? What’s your MSN? You should get MSN!”

No. Don’t tell me what to do. And don’t shove an 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheet of paper in front of me so I can add my name to your “list”. What are you doing, going grocery shopping?

I didn’t quite understand MSN at the time. Why would I want to go home and then be forced into an internet conversation with people I barely talked to during the day? I’d rather eat olives. And I did. I ate olives. Olives are good.

Apparently having a lot of friends on MSN was worth bragging about.

I didn’t get MSN until Grade 9. I only gave in because I had to do a group project for my religion class.

Who has olives and fewer MSN friends than you? This guy.

I’m not some olive freak. No offence to olive freaks.

Over the years, I grew to really like MSN. But the early days were a nightmare.

When I finally saw what MSN was all about, I realized it was nothing more than an obstacle course, which started as soon as you declared yourself to be online.

Get into as many conversations as you can and try to end them as fast as you can. That was the challenge, right? The mission. The modus operandi. My reason for existing.

I think one night I had to go for dinner on four separate occasions, in four different chats. Well, that’s what my excuse was at least.

“Sorry, gotta go for dinner. Bye.”

Worked every time.

I was inundated with useless messages and abbreviations. Everyone wanted to know how I was or what I was up to. As if I was on life support and could be lost at the chomp of a potato chip.

“Sup? Watchu hav 4 hmwk.”

I remember that message. It was from a girl who had her friends ask me if I liked her. I never replied to the message because, at the time, I only spoke English and not whatever language she was using. I felt bad.

MSN was a safe place. I only spoke to people I knew. There weren’t any strangers or people on the other side of the world who wanted to know more about the upkeep required for a Canadian igloo.

It wasn’t a dangerous place, like the rest of the internet.

Maybe I watched too many episodes of America’s Most Wanted as a kid, but it felt like the internet was full of people claiming to be someone they weren’t, with the sole purpose of luring others to a location.

Actually, that’s exactly what the internet is!

Little Paul: boy genius, adult moron.

So, growing up, I stayed clear of chat rooms, multiplayer online games, or anything where talking to strangers was a possibility.

Stranger rhymes with danger. There’s a reason.

So when I started this blog, I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know how this worked. I assumed that I would post my thoughts on the internet, some people would read them, spit at their screen, and then carry on to a more interesting website.

I didn’t know there would be comments, followers, or people who would look forward to reading my next masterpiece. It was all sprung on me like a surprise party and I did my best to act like it’s exactly what I wanted.

I got my first blog comment and cringed. What was the proper protocol? Do I reply to the person’s comment, or do I report them to the authorities? It was a coin flip, really. I didn’t know. How dare they try to interact with me!

It was a very, “Stand back! I have…uhh…olives…and I’m not afraid to use them” scenario.

I never replied to the comment.

Slowly, my wall came down and I started to be friendly with other bloggers. I started to understand how this world worked.

One of the first friends I made on here, if not my first friend, asked to add me on another social media site and I froze up. I didn’t know how to tell them “no”, so I said “yes”. And you know what, it wasn’t so bad.

That was my first legitimate internet friend. We’re still internet friends.

But still, it felt a bit strange.

It’s not a coincidence that I only go by my first name on this blog.

Anyone in the world can read this blog. Why do they need to know anything other than my first name? And if I didn’t even give my first name, would it matter? I don’t think so.

Is Paul even my real name? Discuss amongst yourselves.

Over the three and a half years (they grow up so fast) that I’ve had this blog, I’ve developed friendships with other bloggers. A lot, actually. And I don’t say that in a “I have 103 MSN friends” way either. It’s just the truth.

Some of these friendships have transferred over onto other social media platforms. Platforms where I’m more personal with the things I share.

I must say this though – I’m picky about who I allow that access to. And if that offends you, just know, I’m not sorry about it.

Which leads me to this:

Lately, I’ve found myself in a group chat with three other bloggers: Chris, Jess, and Meghan.

I’ve known Chris for about 73 years, so we don’t really qualify as internet friends. We qualify as life partners old. Though we do do (ha, do do) most of our communicating on the internet. Maybe we are internet friends.

I’ve known Jess and Meghan for about a year and half, I think?

Anyway, a few months ago, Meghan posted on her blog an idea of a group chat that included bloggers. It would be like a neverending comments section, except somewhere else.

You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.

Meghan and I were already tight like wiring on a fence, so within the same day, we started a group chat and lured invited Jess and Chris into the mix.

Starting that group chat has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I really don’t know how I lived without it for so long.

Every morning I wake up and know that there will be an early morning conversation between Meghan and Jess that I’ll have to read through before throwing in a witty remark of my own to mark my presence.

Chris is the ghost of the group. At some points he can be in there like swimwear, and other times, he can be missing for days. No one knows when he’ll show up and enlighten us with his short, but powerful, comments. But when he does, we all pee a little giggle with glee.

The conspiracy theory is that I’m actually Chris and live a double life on the internet.

What makes this group chat unique is we’re all born in the same year actually a bunch of weirdos who don’t have to pretend to be cool in front of each other. Though there are many laughs, jokes, and GIFs to fill a 24-hour day, there are also some serious discussions.

I think we have all asked each other for advice, or ranted about something, or in Chris’ case – posted an emoji and leave.

This is the part where I delve deeper into the topics we discuss every day, but I’m not sure if I should start at “Slides for adults” or “Dinosaur-shaped chicken fingers”.

And it’s not scary. The word “stranger” does not rhyme with “danger” in this group chat. It rhymes with “manger”, as in the place where baby Jesus lay. A safe place. This group chat is a safe place.

As an introvert, I’m not the kind of person to say, “Hey y’all, let’s get together and go down to the county fair this weekend, and then awkwardly stand in a parking lot trying to decide where to eat dinner. My horse, or yours?”

Give me a couch and I’m there. That being said, this group chat is perfect for me.

In preparation for this blog post, I asked each person what the group chat means to them. Here are their responses.

Meghan: “This group chat is happiness and sanity. It makes my day to see random messages from you guys.”

Jess: “5 o’clock at the oaaaaaaaasissssss.”

Chris: Chris couldn’t be reached for comment. 

Those responses should tell you everything you need to know. 

When I talk it out and say to myself, “I met these people on the internet, but I consider them friends”, it still seems weird to me.

But then I’m roped into a discussion about caterpillars and I’m reminded that real friendships are supposed to be weird, especially ones that are formed on the internet.

Have you developed friendships beyond the comments section? Do you like olives? Which kind? What are your thoughts on caterpillars?

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About Paul

This is the part where I'm supposed to write something interesting about myself and you'll read it and think, "That's not that interesting." So let's not do that and just think about pizza instead, on the count of three. One, two, three. Donuts. Now, wasn't that interesting?
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73 Responses to I Never Thought I Would Have Internet Friends

  1. Miriam says:

    Hey Paul, I’ve formed friendships away from my blog too, on other social media platforms. Feels like I’m checking in with a real friend every day. I love it. But guess what, like you I didn’t reply to my first ever comment either!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. micqu says:

    I have quite a few internet friends too, though none of them came through my blog (which is not popular anyway, lol) It’s amazing how you can click with people you never met in person. I like that a lot. And still, I draw a line at sharing my Facebook with my internet friends with a couple exceptions. (There are always exceptions). Twitter and Instagram (and the blog) those I share openly.
    About the olives… I love olives. The black ones with lots of garlic. And caterpillars… All I know is that they eat an apple on Monday and two pears on Tuesday and… They eat all week until they are fat. Then they go to sleep and wake up as beautiful butterflies. I want to be a caterpillars too!
    Have a great day. xx

    Liked by 2 people

  3. peckapalooza says:

    For me it was AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) instead of MSN. And I didn’t so much have conversations with people on there as stalk their away messages to see who was the most clever among us that day. I always felt awkward trying to talk to people on there, but that’s because I thought that saying “Hey” to someone who just came online was equivalent to running up to a person who just walked into the room and trying to strike up a conversation. That’s not who I was in real life, why should I be that way online? I do miss those clever away messages though.

    As for internet friends… I’m never sure if I’ve actually made friends through this blogging thing. I’ve been writing for a lot of years. Through my previous blog, I made probably two friends, both of whom I still follow on Instagram… one of whom I’m friends with on Facebook… but I haven’t had a real conversation with either of them in probably three years. Through my current blog, I feel like I’ve made connections with more people and have definitely connected through other social media more than I previously did. Maybe it’s a thing where the potential for deeper friendships is there, I’m just holding back. Because that’s what I do. Trust issues. Psychological walls… says the guy who writes about everything that ever happens to him on a blog to be read by anyone in the world…

    Wow. That was a long comment…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Paul says:

      Haha the away messages were great! I forgot about those. I always wondered why people didn’t just log out while they were away. Maybe they were so important that they would return to many messages? I wouldn’t know.
      I get what you’re saying about the friendships. There are bloggers I follow on Twitter and Instagram who I don’t talk to but just like their things and I consider that a friendship. Psychological walls do come into play a lot. Thanks for the novel!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. rebbit7 says:

    Yes to this post! I’ve met a lot of great bloggers on WordPress (including you, as well) and even became friends with them through other social media (e.g. Facebook). It’s funny, because not too long ago, I finally met a blogger whom I have gotten to know face-to-face, Skyping and whatnot. It’s amazing how things take off from our passion in writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jess says:

    This is perfect! Your depiction of Chris leaving an emoji and then disappearing is spot on. I never thought I would make friends over the Internet either but it’s a blessing in disguise. I can definitely relate to the “weirdness” of trying to explain to other people how I met you guys. If I even mention any of you in conversation, they ask me who you are, and I’m like, “Oh, my Canadian friends…whom I’ve never met…so please, just go with it.”

    Liked by 2 people

  6. ahhh the msn days of nudges and those animations you could bombard people with, miss those times–I love the group chat, such a good idea

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Issa says:

    That sounds like my kinda weirdos…I want in on that internet group thingy…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Issa says:

    I see you haven’t lost your touch

    Liked by 1 person

  9. ~M says:

    Laughed the whole way through…. this is exactly what everyone needs. Friends can be found in the strangest places, but the ones I’ve met here on WP, have been some of the most loyal friends I’ve ever had.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Squid says:

    Going to reply out of order because I can:
    1. OLIVES LOOK LIKE BLUEBERRIES AND THEY TRICKED ME WHEN I WAS 6. I HAVE NEVER FOGIVEN THEM. That being said, I’m glad you like them. I will never ever get back together with them, but I don’t let foods ruin friendships with people.
    2. Caterpillars are amazing esp. the harmless fluffy ones. The extremely-poisonous-don’t-touch-this-if-you-value-your-life ones are a little scary, but generally still look cool too. Plus, they grow up to be butterflies or moths, so win-win, right?
    3. I have had some awesome comment section convos, but, other than friends I know IRL and text because I can and who incidentally have blogs too, I don’t have any conversations with anyone in the blog-o-sphere through any other medium. I apologize, that was an immense sentence. 😀
    GroupMe is an awesome medium for group chats, and my friends and I use it to plan things and share the greatest memes ever. We have our fair share of ghosts who grace us with their presence once in a blue moon too, and I feel ya with the giggling, lol.
    Cool post, Paul who may or may not be Paul…
    Squid

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      1. Haha I hate when foods disguise themselves as something else, especially raisins. Those suckers always want to look like chocolate chips.
      2. Right!
      3. That’s cool! A good group chat is hard to find but once found, they’re a lot of fun.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Barb Knowles says:

    I LOVE your posts, but ESPECIALLY the ones that make me laugh out loud. The first thing I had to do was go back to my first post (I was so nervous writing that, it was awful). I did respond. I have made a handful of friends through the blog, which is an aspect of blogging that I hadn’t anticipated. Some I communicate via emails, instagram and Twitter. But Twitter doesn’t really count because I have Twitter for my blog plus a personal one where I re-tweet the blog. But I do message a couple of people. And one blogger who is now a Facebook friend. I love all my new blogging friends, (like 5), like for real love the way you would any friend. But in person? I almost feel that would wreck it. Yet it’s also very bizarre that we could pass each other on the street and not know each other.
    Oh you mentioned we might not know if your name really is Paul. If you remember, I was trying to go incognito here in the beginning. Because I thought I would be writing just, or mostly, about teaching, I didn’t want to get in “trouble” at work for giving real opinions that might have been at odds with work. So I went by Elizabeth Canavan and my profile pic here was a duck. Until one day my boss said “I love your blog!” So no more duck.
    ps. My best-friend-that-I’ve-never-met is a woman from Scotland whom I met on a Facebook game like 10 years ago. We text at least 3 times a day and talk occasionally.
    Paul, I don’t think my comment is quite as long as your post, this time at least. Fun post 😃

    Liked by 1 person

  12. heymeghan91 says:

    I guess I should comment on this since it is about me…. all I have to say is TACOS!
    Hi Chris!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Interesting post. I have had some very random and interesting friendships over the years I have to admit that have been forged in the dark belly of the internet. Some have lasted. Most haven’t. But they’ve been fun while they lasted.

    And I love olives. Not sure whether I prefer black or green though.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Loved reading this, you really do have quite an amazing way with words that made me not want to stop reading. I had somewhat of the same, although being still a teen in this age in which social media is so commonly used, it seemed like just a thing everyone did and everyone had-no raised eyebrows. It’s really interesting to hear a different perspective on it though, so thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Paul says:

      Thanks for reading! Yeah it seems like a long time ago that the world wasn’t connected through social media, but really it’s only been about 10-12 years (maybe that is a long time, after all). Sending someone a message wasn’t so easy in the early 2000s.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Ariel Lynn says:

    I was gonna ask you similar olive-related questions. It’s a true test of friendship… what kind of olives, & how do you eat them? *suspicious look*

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      Lol I like the green and black round olives. I eat those by picking them up and putting them in my mouth haha. I also like the sliced green olives (like the pizza topping), but don’t like the sliced black olives. I eat the green ones on pizza or I’ll buy a jar of them and eat them off a plate with a fork.
      This is the most interesting comment I’ve ever written.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ariel Lynn says:

        It’s so funny that you don’t like sliced black olives, but you like whole ones. LOL

        See, I like eating green olives with pimentos in the middle, so that’s what I was thinking about. I like to slurp the pimentos out & then eat the green part. In tiny nibbles. But, black olives are my absolute favorite. Whole, not sliced. 😀

        Then again, I’m pretty weird about how I eat things. LMFAO

        Liked by 1 person

      • Paul says:

        I think the sliced black olives might be a different kind. Not sure though. I’ve never tried olives with pimentos, but they’ve always looked good from afar lol

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ariel Lynn says:

        I recommend trying the olives with the pimentos in ’em. Preferably somewhere you don’t have to commit to buying a whole bottle yourself. Also somewhere you won’t be judged for slurping out the pimentos & nibbling the green bits. LOL

        Liked by 1 person

  16. “And I’ve known Shaz for like 4 years” Lol great post! I used AIM back in the day!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Yes! I have a few internet friends and one of them has even turned into a real life, living breathing friendly friend. I packed up my lil’ suitcase and drove 4 states to meet her and it was the best decision ever. *Technically I was on vacation with my fam so I only had to drive an extra 2 hours, but still*

    Internet friends are fantastic.

    Oh, and yes. Olives are great!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Pingback: I Never Thought I Would Have Internet Friends « Hey Meghan...

  19. Lol “life partners” wow. 😂

    Humor & Lifestyle // http://www.rebekahkoontzsite.com

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Little Rants says:

    Ooh, I have made plenty of friends actually. Specially girls over on instagram that ask my opinion before buying makeup and I feel so important like Kylie. (Ew.)

    Liked by 1 person

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