Distance Doesn’t Matter
What are web buds good for?
By Nicole Fryer, University of Pittsburgh
Friendships are important at any point in your life, but what happens when you start going to college?
You’re busy building your new life, they’re busy building theirs and you’re both trying to get an education. There’s no time to drive or fly and meet up, so you have no other choice but to continue the relationship virtually.
Even with texting, Skype and every other social media outlet readily available, here’s how to keep that virtual friendship while you’re busy studying, and why virtual friendships can be stronger than other relationships.
1. Text Me Through the Phone
If the friendship started out virtual, not much is going to change through college. A few years back, I discovered a site where I could share my writing, and, while most people shared some shitty fanfictions, I talked and connected with other writers and readers, and met some really great people.
Most of them lived too far away to meet up in person, but we would Skype and text each other when we weren’t logged into the website. When some of those friends went to college, we continued to text and keep in contact, though sometimes it wasn’t as frequent.
2. Save Your Goodbyes
When either of you start classes, it’s not as hard to say goodbye. In fact, if your situation is similar to mine, those virtual friends live several states away, and you may have never met them face to face.
So, when you pack your bags and move to college, you don’t have those awkward and sad goodbye hugs that you do with your other friends before you leave.
3. Lean on Me
If you meet friends online, chances are there’s going to be a slight age gap between the two of you. Several of my online friends are a year older and a year wiser. They started college before me and gave me guidance on what to expect.
One of my friends goes to school in Poland, so she’s teaching me how to adjust to such a big change. On the other hand, some of my online friends are a little younger and are just getting ready to graduate high school and move to college, so it’s my turn to give them guidance.
4. No Excuses
You’re both busy, and since you’ve never met face to face, there’s not that awkward start-up period when the two of you start talking again. The both of you are living your separate lives, hanging out with other friends, so there’s a total understanding of not talking for a while.
That “Hey, how you’ve been” text is always great, and after filling each other in on one another’s lives, it’s like the two of you never stopped talking. Sometimes I’ll go months without talking to some of them, while others I try to talk to every day, or at least several times a week, but college and homework get in the way.
5. Judgment-Free Zone
Since you haven’t met in person, or don’t see each other nearly as much as some of your other friends, it’s easier to have real conversations with them. Sure, your other friends are there for you too, but if you drop a huge bomb on them, it can be awkward. College is a time to experiment with pretty much anything, so if you’re thinking about trying something new, or you’ve already done it, you can tell your virtual friend.
Sure, they’re your friend, and they might not be the happiest with you, but there’s a lot less judgment while you’re telling them that you tried these exotic drinks and had too much, or that you’ve slept with someone you shouldn’t have. Trust me, they’re the friends you’ll want to tell.
6. Different Strokes
If the friendship didn’t start out virtual but it is now, that’s okay too. Sometimes people move away, or the two of you just don’t click in person but click well over text.
One of my childhood friends moved out of state years ago, but by keeping in contact, it was like we grew up together. We’ve become different people, and if we met up in person, we’d probably struggle to find something we’re both into, but that doesn’t stop us from texting about our boy problems and sharing songs with one another to help us feel better.
7. No Shame
Just because the friendship is virtual, it does not mean that it’s devalued in any way, and there’s no need to be ashamed of making friends online. When I started making friends online, I was still a teenager and my parents were a little leery of the concept. Just make sure to take precautions when you first start talking and make sure they aren’t some creep (and depending on the site you meet them on, there’s probably a slim chance of that happening.)
Even if parents aren’t the issue, other people may challenge how strong a friendship can be if it is strictly virtual. Chances are, if the virtual friendship is a strong one, your friend will know everything about you because they’re super easy to talk to; a person who would ask such a question might not be as worthy of friendship. So, don’t let anyone tell you that the friendship won’t work out—strong friendships never die, no matter how they were built.