I used to be one of those people who were terrified to give any information out online.
I used a fake name, a fake location, and I wouldn’t even post my picture. Most everyone I talked to on the internet knew me as ‘Erin’ (my middle name). I didn’t want to tell my parents that I met friends online – people from Canada and France and Germany and Ireland. I think that, because we are a generation that was growing up in this new time of technology and discovery, it was so instilled in us to be cautious and aware because our parents were scared. This was a whole new thing, a new way of committing crimes and deceiving others. Looking back on that time, I can see why it was so horrifying to a generation that didn’t grow up with the internet. People can be easily seduced by technology, and there was certain to be way more stories in the news about the web being a bad influence rather than good.
So my parents were naturally very concerned about what their children did on the computer. They didn’t want us to be snatched up by predators or visited by cyber-stalkers. I obeyed them because of my overwhelming sense of guilt and fear… until I got older.
In grade 11, I moved from my home of 9 years to a completely new place. I would cry every night during the first month or so of school because it was a somewhat traumatizing experience, and I was afraid I wouldn’t make any friends because everyone in my grade already had their groups. Where some kids would turn to drugs or alcohol or partying, I threw myself into television and the internet, investing all my time in forums and youtube.
I was particularly involved in the fandom for the show Life with Derek (don’t judge), and through that I met some of my best friends who I still talk to today. I met a girl named Robin, who, at the time, was going by the alias Blair as she was also scared of sharing her info over the internet.
Slowly but surely, we grew to trust each other and revealed our true identities and became facebook friends. We eventually told our parents about each other, and they surprisingly took the news rather well, especially after skype dates were arranged for us all to talk face to face. I even got to travel to Vancouver to meet Robin and her gracious family who took care of me for one of the best weeks of my life.
Here is our first meeting at the airport –
Now I’m not here to tell you that every internet friendship/story is a dream come true. The internet is not completely safe, of course. It’s all a matter of being smart and deciding which information you should share and what you should keep to yourself. But you never know what could happen if you keep an open mind and don’t limit your availability.
Please feel free to leave any comments or suggestions! Tell me about your own internet stories!