Real Life Friendships Through Virtual Relationships

Trouble Ahead

“What?!” My daughter Katrina looked at me as if I’d suddenly sprouted an extra eyeball in my chin. “You and Laura are going to meet someone you met on the INTERNET this summer?”

I could see the mind movie reels playing in her imagination—all the things we had warned her about coming true in the life of her own mom and sister.

“She’s a safe person,” I assured her. “She has four adorable little kids and her husband is a youth pastor.”

Katrina shook her head in disbelief that I would break my own rules of safety and actually meet someone from online. In a big city. With just Laura for protection.

Later, I showed her my friend’s Facebook page and photos of the cute kids. “Look, she’s a real person—no one can fake a family like that!”

When she noticed my friend’s profile picture, she exclaimed, “THAT’S who you’re going to go see? She’s famous!” I chuckled, glad that I had Katrina’s approval for meeting an Internet friend in real life.

Oh, how life has changed since the birth of the Internet and social media!

Five years ago, I had never heard of twitter. Now, I’m leaving the comfort of my gliding rocker and daring to branch out and meet strangers whose lives and prayers I’ve shared for the last two-and-a-half years.

For an introvert who has never had more than a small circle of close friends, this is terrifying yet exhilarating. I feel terrified because I will meet people without the proper introductions or mutual acquaintances—my go-to excuse to stay in my introverted little shell like a hermit crab when new people come around.

I feel exhilarated because for the first time in my life I’ve become part of a bigger community outside of my self-imposed narrow little habitat. In other words, all too often I’ve been pretty satisfied with myself and not too worried about anyone else. My self has satisfied me for all too long, and social media has opened up a whole new world of community for me.

Community that functions like I think church should function. Community that prays and uplifts at the drop of a tweet. The friendships and influence of my growing community have challenged and equipped me to venture out into the wider world with eyes wide open.

There’s suffering to be met, and I know I’m going to meet it. Click To Tweet Along the way, I’d love to meet some of you. To come alongside of you (through social media or in real life) in your suffering. To be an understanding and empathetic ear.

I’d love to meet more of you (pending Katrina’s approval, of course, if the meeting takes place in real life).

How has social media changed your life?

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Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a 'recovering cancer caregiver' who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

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