On meeting (friends) online

This is me toasting you. Because you’re awesome.


At the height of Hanson’s popularity in 1997, I was one of countless 12-year-olds enamored with the flaxen-haired brothers. Since this was also around the time The Internet and web providers like America Online entered the public consciousness, my Hanson glee coincided perfectly with my first online identity: Megan from Megan’s Space of HITZ, a Hanson-based website where I analyzed the lyrics to tunes like “Where’s The Love” and posted my Taylor fan fiction. It was awesome.

Maintaining websites off and on for 15 years (!) means I’ve always been familiar, and comfortable, with having an online presence. An identity, if you will. Though my early sites were fan pages dedicated exclusively to boy bands (Hanson, of course, then ‘NSYNC), I’ve loved establishing friendships with like-minded folks and “putting myself out there.” Even if it’s just on a computer screen. Since it’s what I’ve always done, it’s what I’ve always done. It’s the opposite of weird: it’s normal.

In mid-1998, Megan’s Space of HITZ was my masterpiece. I cultivated friendships with Hanson fans from around the world — including Lara, a buddy who lived in Edinburgh, Scotland. As a 13-year-old, the very idea of “knowing” someone from Scotland was delightfully whimsical. Making friends with folks in other countries still thrills me, honestly — and reminds me that the world really is a small place. I still remember getting parental permission to actually call Lara (extreme long distance!) one Sunday afternoon in 1999 or 2000. I don’t know what ever became of her; we emailed for years before losing touch, and I still think about her. Especially when I was in her city last year.

I’ve always had “online friends.” And I don’t consider my “online friends” any different from my “real” friends. On many days, I talk to my online friends more than anyone I know in “real life” . . . unless you happen to share an office with me. In my mind, there’s no distinction between those I communicate with through Twitter and those I would meet for lunch. When I talk about you guys (and yes, I do — with my family, with my coworkers, with my boyfriend), I don’t call you my “Internet friends,” like you’re little dancing robots I’ve Googled. You’re just my friends. That’s it.

Though I can be an emotional person, I tend to bottle up those feelings — or let them out in dribs and drabs. I don’t like making scenes or bold declarations. I’m not really a hugger. But I’ve been thinking about how fortunate I am to know all of you, and what a lucky girl I am to be able to arrive in any random city — here or abroad — and have a friend in town to call. (Or, you know, email. Or tweet. You know what I mean.)

My sister and I are heading to New York City tomorrow morning, and I’ll be seeing Lu on Sunday. Wish I could see Melissa and scores of other folks, too — will have to snag you all on my next go ’round. Less than 48 hours in New York isn’t enough, needless to say; I’ll be wearing good walking shoes. But I’m really excited.

In 1997, I couldn’t have predicted the way my online identity would change over the years — or how said identity would morph into something bigger than that: a deeper understanding of self. write meg! will celebrate its fourth birthday next month, and I’m intensely grateful to still have this space to call my own. I’ve changed here. Forged new bonds here. Developed new interests here — and become a better person. Whether you know it or not, you’ve helped and inspired me. I’m so grateful.

When I first began posting at 22, I didn’t think about whether I’d still be here at (almost) 27 — but I’m so glad I am.

It sounds like I’m wrapping something up. I’m not. I hope I never wrap anything up; I hope we go on this way forever.

Love to all.

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9 thoughts on “On meeting (friends) online

  1. While reading, I totally thought you were wrapping things up. I was really anxious for a while there ;) Going on forever, yes, yes. I’ll be smiling and thinking of you while you’re in ‘my’ city (well, it’s not really mine but it feels that way) and look forward to the next go round. :)

  2. I find it amazing that one can have such good friends that they have never met. Then when you really meet in person, it is like you have known them forever. I love that we/bloggers have a friend in every port! Almost more than you can fit in on a trip!

  3. I love this post! There are lots of times when I say, “My friend Meg….” and have to remind my mom, dad or husband that you are my friend from Maryland who I met through blogging. ;)

  4. This is a beautiful post, Meg. =) I think one of the most beautiful things about meeting new friends online is the continual renewal of thought. Meeting friends from around the world with different cultures, ideas, and idiosyncrasies challenge us to thing outside our little box of existence, especially those of us (like me) who have never been out of the same geographical area before. =)
    Keep on writing, Meg!
    -Tamara

  5. this is such a wonderful post! and i completely know what you mean. i’ve made a couple of random wwf friends by chatting with them as we play and all my “real” friends think its so strange to be talking to a complete stranger, but sometimes i end up talking to them more than i do with people i actually know.

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