When Internet Friends Become Real Life Friends

Did your mom tell you not to talk to strangers?

Apparently mine didn’t.

I am a part of the generation that discovered using the internet for the purpose of social interaction. At 14 I met a group of girls on an online message board for The Fab Four– the ultimate tribute to the Beatles. By 15, I had met them all in person and had an entirely different group of friends than those I had been raised with. We were odd ball, Beatle crazed teenagers in 2000, and sprinkled around Southern California. I am still friends with those girls, and was even in 2 of their weddings!

The friendships I gained from my teenybopper years as a Ringo obsessed adolescent was the beginning of me getting to know people on the internet with similar interests and making a real friendship out of an online screen name and profile picture. Whether Beatles, Disney, Swing Dancing, Metal, or Theology, I continued to meet folks here and there via different groups and websites.

Within weeks of my first ever positive pregnancy test, I had set up an account on the What to Expect message boards looking to connect with other moms who were due the same month as I was. Some mom put up a post saying she had started a Facebook group for women due the exact week that I was! I joined that, and was introduced to a group of women who would shoulder me through the joys and worries of my first pregnancy, and entry into motherhood with a new baby. Asking a question and hearing “that’s normal” or posting a problem and reading “me, too” was incredibly comforting. After being in that group a year and a half, I left. There was drama, and I couldn’t hang. But I was able to maintain relationships with several other women in the group with whom I was close.

When I became pregnant with my second, I started my own Facebook group for women due my same week. I did this with each of my last 3 pregnancies. And while I am not in any of those original groups (did I mention I have a hard time sticking around drama?? Hehe!), I remain friends with pockets of ladies from each of those groups. 

One small dollop of ladies (can groups of people be dollops? Or is that just for sour cream?) from Mamitas’s birth group became incredibly close. So close, in fact, that we talk every, single day via video chat. We talked about 500 times about meeting up and I decided we needed a date and a deadline or it would never happen. So, this last weekend, 5 of us, from different parts of the country, with different backgrounds, and stories, met up for the first time.

Okay that’s cool. We’ve all met people from the internet. 

Did I mention on this first meeting we all shared one hotel room? Oh and between us there were 2 or 3 strains of the stomach virus and some pneumonia-like plague? Add in a shooting down the street, walking for 10+ miles, and cockroaches in our bathroom at 2am. Oh also, not a single thing we planned went according to plan. Like every single thing we had decided to do failed. (Wait, I lie. We ate at Taco Bell together. And that was actually on the official plan. Because nothing says flying and driving in from different corners of the country to be united in fake cheese sauce!) 

You might think that planning a trip with people you haven’t met before in person could be a proving ground to see if you still like each other. You’d be right. But once you add “EVERYTHING GOING WRONG” into the mix, it becomes a test of whether or not you may end up hating someone by the end. 

But guess what? Even with everything not going according to plan, we had a wonderful time. We are moms. We roll with the punches. We adapted and laughed. 

So, while we may tease that meeting people on the internet is for the socially awkward who can’t make friendships in real life– I sure am thankful for my interweb mom friends. 

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