High school wasn’t my thing. I never partook in clubs, sports or after school activities, and never spent the weekend partying with my classmates. I even ended up transferring into an online school less than two years in! During my short time at my first high school, I spent most of my day at my principal’s office, drinking tea and watching America’s Got Talent recap videos.
I never took an interest in making friends with the kids in my class since they weren’t the nicest, and I was satisfied with the friends I made over the internet.
One of the days I was at my principal’s office, I received a private message on Twitter from someone named, Ryan. I had never seen him or his account before. He was asking for advice on a company that wanted to fly him out to New York for an event and wondered if they were trustworthy.
The company in question didn’t have the best reputation among fellow influencers, especially when it came to anything revolving around events, so he was a little hesitant about agreeing to attend. After getting on the phone with him and giving him all the information that he needed, less than a week later, he was on a flight to New York and spent almost two weeks at my house.
I know what you may be thinking: I’m insane for letting a complete stranger stay at my house. My parents, siblings and friends all thought the same! While I can’t really explain why I did what I did, it was one of the best decisions I ever made. Nearly four years later, he’s the closest friend I have. My parents consider him like a son and my siblings like a brother.
He became a part of the family.
Since December 28, 2016, Ryan and I have seen one another over a dozen times. I spent the last two Christmas’ in Florida by his place, while he spent my last three birthdays with me here, in New York. We traveled together to Los Angeles twice and met in Orlando, Florida for an event, twice as well. We toured together on a social media tour that I started at the age of 15, and went on numerous little adventures across all the boroughs of New York and upstate. We’re even planning a trip down to Australia in the near future!
In addition to all the experiences we had around the country, Ryan was my first dance at my Sweet 16. He sat on the phone with me for hours during my first (and second) heartbreak. He’s the first person I call when I have news, and the first person I FaceTime when I complete a makeup look. He’s the first to see my Instagram photos before I post and the first to leave a comment when it’s uploaded. Overall, he is my person and my No. 1 fan.
Now, I’m not writing this to encourage you to go befriend the first person you find on the internet. I’m writing this to normalize online friendships and to show what good can come from them. Growing up, my mother constantly stressed about me meeting strangers online, getting kidnapped or worse. In reality, I don’t find the internet to be anything like that. We live in a time where we have FaceTime, Snapchat and Instagram, and these social media platforms have multiple steps to verify that you are the person you say you are!
While catfishing still exists, I think it’s harder for individuals to do so now, compared to maybe five, or ten years ago.
I can confidently say that the majority of my friends are people I met solely off of social media apps like Instagram, Twitter, Vine or TikTok. I got the chance to meet a majority of them (in real life) when I traveled to places like California, Florida, Washington and Pennsylvania, or attended events like Beautycon and Playlist! There have even been instances where these individuals flew to New York and stayed at my home, just like Ryan did in 2016.
Social media cultivates a space where you can find people who share the same interests or hobbies as you. People won’t judge you for the things you love and are truly passionate about! Whether you love all things Harry Potter, makeup enthusiasts, TikTok users, or someone who just enjoys cooking, there is a whole community of people waiting for you online. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to find your Ryan!