Before I met James, I did the standard foray into online dating. And as I sat in listening to a guy telling me about why his ‘ex was a crazy bitch, so he has no time for that’, I considered a few things. Mostly, when I could leave. But also, I realised what I was looking for was friendship, someone to go to the pub with and moan about my day. Not necessarily romance, and (I concluded about ten minutes later) certainly not with him.
A couple of years later, I’d moved back to Manchester and once again, I found myself acknowledging that I didn’t want to sit around watching Law and Order SVU alone for the rest of my life.
I had to actually make friends. And, no one ever tells you how hard it is to make friends as an adult. That there’s this monotony to not having anyone to go out with or have a chat to. And unlike in the playground, you have to play a far more active role in your friendships.
Looking back, I’m a prime candidate for online friendships.
I was big enough in the fan-fic game that I was familiar with the concept of online friends that I would share my life with, filling them in on everything from my parents to my exams. And it was bloody great. I had this secret world of friends, only two of whom I would ever meet in real life, but they were friends all the same.
I don’t know if it’s the risky element of online friendships, but in the same way that people feel odd about declaring they met a partner through Tinder, people feel weird about making friends on the web. And, I think it’s because it feels like you’re saying ‘I’m not fun enough in real life to meet someone, so I had to meet them online.’
But, as I started to use Instagram as a blogger, I started speaking to people. Women that I had tons in common with. I swapped everything from book recs to career tips, before long I had this online network of women to talk to and then girls to grab a coffee with.
In fact, some of the people I’ve met online are now some of my closest friends.
There’s no denying that the internet is a strange place, Instagram is even odder. Especially as a blogger, because you put out so much of yourself online. But, it’s also a community and there’s something truly wonderful about that, something that should be celebrated.
And when people congratulate me for the stuff I do online, I sometimes feel disingenuous, because behind every photo is a small army of women building concepts and ideas, telling to me to go out and pitch, mentoring and motivating and mostly, proofreading important emails.
So, a thank you to the wonderful humans I’ve met online. Here’s to you.