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Many people believe that meeting friends or significant others online is dangerous business. There is said to be many who catfish—pretending to be someone that they are not. While there are definitely dangerous people out on the internet, there are also many genuine individuals. In todays society many teens turn the internet when they feel alone and are able to meet some of their best friends through Twitter or Instagram.
I am no exception to this.
Starting in the 8th grade I was very active on social media, and often turned to it because I felt as if I didn't have sufficient friends in my hometown.The summer prior to my first year of high school I had met one of my best friends, Kendal, through a Degrassi fan account on Instagram. We both had a mutual interest in the show, and quickly found out that we had much more than that in common.
We would talk endlessly through KIK, and eventually resorted to texting, FaceTime and mailing each other letters. I told her everything from my deepest fears to biggest accomplishments. She would call me on her walks home from school, and we talked endlessly about our favorite Degrassi characters, as well as music, movies, other TV shows we enjoyed, and life in general. She gave me countless memories that I will hold dear to me forever.
There was one night that I remember vividly to this day. I was struggling mentally, and trying to refrain from inflicting harm on myself. I felt as if I had no one to turn to, and while I didn't tell Kendal all of the details of what was going through my mind, I went to her for help. We had only been talking for a few weeks at this point, and didn't even know each others real names yet. To comfort me through this rough night Kendal sent me a song—"The Promise" by Emma Blackery.
This song spoke to me in the most personal way, and I will never forget the way it affected me. It made me feel as there was someone out there who really cared about the real me, and truly wanted to be my friend. I didn't have to pretend, I didn't have to hide any aspect of myself. While listening to the song, one line stuck out to me—"and I may not even know your name, but I promise you I've felt the same." I remember vividly breaking down at that simple phrase, and instantly texting Kendal back about how much I appreciated her and how much that song had helped me cope with the difficult night.
That night happened over five years ago. I still talk to Kendal nearly every day, and even though we have yet to meet, we are planning a weekend together in New York City for sometime in the very near future. I honestly can say that I don't know what I would do without her. She has been there through the best and the worst, and always showed a sense of excitement in talking to me that most people didn't.
In addition to Kendal I have been able to make other friends from social media through the years. Not everyone has stuck like she has, but almost a year ago I was able to meet another individual who has had a massive impact on my life.
In the winter of 2018, I came out to my friends as a lesbian. I was having an extremely hard time accepting myself, and sharing this aspect of myself with the people that I care about. I turned to twitter, and participated in LGBTQ+ hashtags. One night I came across a tweet that peaked my interest, and so I sent a reply.
After this thread of replies we turned to direct messages, which then turned into constant texting. To become friends over mac and cheese is extremely unconventional and in many ways highly comical, but I wouldn't trade this friendship for the world. We spent our first few days of communicating discussing this cheesy meal, as well as other foods that we believe to be the best.
I quickly found myself feeling comfortable talking to Julia, and knew that there wasn't a single part of myself that I had to hide with her. I hadn't been able to talk to many people in the LGBT+ community comfortably, but I never felt like I didn't belong when it came to her. We were able to talk about anything and everything.
In April of 2018 I suffered a fall that left me with a broken foot. I spiraled downwards mentally, hating that I was no longer able to get around Boston with ease. I distanced myself from the friends who didn't reach out to help me, and I rarely left my dorm. I spent my last few weeks of my first year of college in my bed, texting Julia. She always brought my spirits up and helped get through those rough few weeks along with Kendal and the members of my show choir family.
Throughout the summer I continued to struggle both mentally and physically. I was suffering from a crippling sense of loneliness being away from my friends, and I could barley leave my house due to my physical restrictions. I'd spend my days texting Kendal about Grey's Anatomy (she made me watch it and I quickly became obsessed) and texting Julia about life, music, movies and anything that came to mind.
She talked me through some of the roughest nights, distracting me from the pain that was making me physically ill. I could talk to her about anything, and always knew that I could count on her to help me with an issue, or simply make me laugh when every inch of my body was in pain.
We made each other playlists, shared the works we were writing, and talked about college applications (even though they are truly miserable). Months later "love from your local Texan" is still my most played playlist, and every time I hear it all I can think about is what a great friend Julia has been to me.
It is crazy to me that I have known her for less than a year and she has become one of the most important people in my life. I don't know how I would have gotten through this past summer without her, and I truly hope that one day I can give her the biggest hug ever.
Internet friends can be one of the best things to ever happen to you, just like they have been to me. While it is important to be careful with people you don't know on social media, you may be surprised at how genuine a lot of people truly are.
I would have never guessed that two of my best friends would live hours away from me in places like Texas and Ohio, yet the distance means nothing, in fact it only makes these relationships stronger. These are some of the best friendships that I have ever been blessed with and I am beyond grateful for these beautiful and amazing human beings.
I thank you for sticking by my side all of these years. Thank you for accepting me with all of my quirkiness and flaws. I am so proud of everything you have accomplished, and I can't wait to have an amazing day in NYC with you sometime soon. I always look forward to hearing about your adventures, boy drama, and seeing your pets on snapchat and FaceTime. (especially your cat). I am so happy that we have been able to bond over Degrassi, Grey's Anatomy, One Tree Hill, and so much more. You have dealt with all of my drama throughout the years and I can't thank you enough for that. 5 years is a long time, and we have both come a long way since our awkward early teen days. I can't wait to see where else we will go, and what other adventures we will have together.
Thank you for everything you have done for me, even without knowing all of it. You brought so much positivity and laughs into my summer and into my life. I'm so glad I made a stupid comment about Mac and Cheese that one night, and I'm so lucky that you decided to respond and talk to the crazy girl who replied to your tweet. Distance has got nothing on us, and one day I swear we will go on some sort of adventure together, and I will get the chance to give you the biggest hug. I love hearing about what you're up to, and how your horses are doing. (They're actually the cutest). Thank you for helping me to fully accept myself and embrace my sexuality. Thank you for exposing me to some great music, and teaching me things about myself that I didn't know existed. I can't wait to see where our friendship goes and I hope that we can stick together for many years to come.