Finding Your Tribe: Internet Friends are Real Friends

Everyone, it’s time to come out of the closet. We are living in the age of wearable technology, Amazon drones and self-driving cars.

So, hello. My name is Brie. I have internet friends, and I’m not ashamed anymore.

I sometimes call them my pocket BFFs, since I quite literally can whip my phone out of my pocket to chat, ask questions, or cry, and someone, anyone will likely be hanging out in the same corner of the vast internet with me, no matter the time of day.

I’d always interacted with people online, from the super cool AOL Chat Room days to hanging out on listservs and message boards as the internet and I evolved. Sometimes I lurked, sometimes I joined in. It was never more than a casual hobby.

Then, I became a mom. I got pregnant and hung out on baby-centric sites. When he was born, I was awake when the rest of the world and all my real (sane) friends were sleeping, suddenly charged with the biggest, most important duty of my life. And I felt like I was all alone.

Except, I wasn’t. When you have pocket mom BFFs, someone is always awake. Someone has a new baby, too, and is worried about whether he’s nursing enough. Someone is awake with a sick toddler. Someone stayed up extra late to finish up a work project. Someone is awake in Australia or Israel or Ireland to offer a “you’re doing great, mama!” and a virtual hug.

And I breathed a sigh of relief, knowing I wasn’t alone.

As I got to know these women, I realized that my world was expanding for the better. Instead of just having friends who live in the same town from similar walks of life and parenting styles, my village was now full of vibrant, amazing women with different traditions, beliefs, and priorities. As we talked and debated, sometimes my perspectives changed, and sometimes I held them tighter than ever before.

My internet friends were the first ones to encourage me to seek treatment for postpartum depression. They encouraged to me as I bounced from specialist to specialist seeking answers for my son.  There was almost always someone with the most reassuring words: “I’ve been there, too.”

As time went by, the lines between internet friends and real friends blurred. I met several women local to me, and we went to consignment sales, to boozy dinners out, to birthday parties. When my son was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, they filled my freezer with meals, sent me to get a massage, and donated pumped breastmilk when he couldn’t nurse. They sent cards and a bracelet that reminds me to “be brave” every day.  We text and meet up when I travel for work.

So, welcome to 2016. I have internet friends and I’m not ashamed.

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One Response to Finding Your Tribe: Internet Friends are Real Friends

  1. Aliza January 22, 2016 at 10:56 pm #

    This is a great piece. I’m glad you’re my internet friend.