I’ve Got Friends in Digital Places

When I was younger, I was bullied a lot.  I was called chubby, fatty, tomato face (’cause I got red in the sun really quickly).  In elementary and middle school, I had exactly one friend.  In the first two years of high school, I got a group of friends.  However, I heard what they called me behind my back:  Baby Hitler, saying I yelled a lot, had facial hair issues, and was chubbier than most.  The second two years of high school, I transferred to a better school and got a better group of friends.  Unfortunately, after high school, I just drifted apart from them.

Because of my bad experiences as a kid and teen, I never really thought I’d meet a stable group of friends.  Sure, in college classes, I made a few friendly acquaintances, but I never really saw myself hanging out with any of them.  I was starting to think I was just the kind of person who wouldn’t have close friends in his life.  I didn’t think there was a problem with that.  I just accepted it as a fact.  Then, my life was changed around almost literally with the click of a button.

It all started in an unlikely forum on the site TV.com.  Danny Phantom was and is one of my favorite shows.  So, I decided to participate in that forum.  I visited it every day after school and found myself having conversations with the same people every day.  Through these conversations, I realized that friendship can be achieved online.  Sure, it’s not conventional, but these like-minded people eventually felt like friends.

After a while, I drifted away from the Phantom Forums.  But I found new friends through ThatGuyWithTheGlasses.com.  I was contacted by a guy named Carlos because he liked my blogs and wanted to do up a blog giving tribute to the site using some frequent bloggers.  Because of him, I got Skype and met up through there with two people who I’m proud to call friends:  Chris and Laura.  Laura, as you may know, eventually became my girlfriend.  After these three, I have been introduced to countless cool people through Skype.  I got to know these people through a group chat started on Skype that remains constant to this day.  These people have remained good friends to me.  I am proud to call them friends because they are some of the best people I’ve ever known.  I’d list them all here, but I’m afraid it would take pages to do that.  So, all of you, you know who you are, I thank you for your friendship and I think you’re awesome.

There are two ways that I’ve lost friends online:  either they stop being my friend for one reason or another or they decide that the world of Online just isn’t cut out for them anymore.  The second set say that they just have to focus on their real lives and they unplug completely from the ‘net.  So they leave.  But I don’t stop considering them friends.  These people are good people that need to get their lives in order.  They need to find their happiness.  To them, to Welshy (whom I will miss very much as both a fan and friend), I wish them nothing but the best.  (Aside to Mat Williams:  Welshy, man, you’re a brilliant person.  You don’t take crap from anyone.  I admire your spirit and your strength.  Never stop being awesome, dude.)

What I’m trying to say with this long, almost rambling post is this.  This may sound like a stupid 90s kid show lesson, but hear me out.  I used to think friendship wasn’t that big of a deal.  Friends were just people.  But since then I’ve realized that these people I’ve met online, these smart, funny, occassionally crazy but always loveable people, are more than that.  Friends mean people who understand when you’re having a bad day.  They celebrate with you when life is good.  You comfort them when they feel bad and laugh with them when the time is right.  I couldn’t imagine my life without the TGWTG “wiki” chat and everyone in there.  I hope to meet all of them in person one day.  I hope to hang out with them, laugh with them, shake their hands, give hugs to the ones that want hugs.  Friends are now one of the most important things to me.

I realize this post is almost sickeningly sweet and not everyone will understand it.  I don’t mind.  I wanted to make this post not only for myself but also for my friends.  My sister once told me that online friends aren’t REAL friends.  (Admittedly, she said this while we were in the middle of a fight.)  Since meeting Laura in person, she realized that that’s just not right.  Friends can be found anywhere, even in the digital sense.

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