Last year, I wrote about how a year on dating apps brought me more friends than dates. I talked about how I’d met all these people through Twitter, and how even though most of us hadn’t really “met,” yet, how it was a new type of friendship and how it was the best thing to come out of my newly single life.
Now, we are almost a year later (the fact that I’ve been single for almost two years and have yet to get past a second date is a depressing story for another day) and I have met a majority of my closest twitter friends. I’ve made new friends since last year, and I’ve lost a few friends that I met through this medium; not everyone is always who you think they are when you meet them on the internet, and that has been a hard lesson to learn.
But, as I sit and reflect on the last two years, many of the people who had the biggest impact on my life and living with the reality of being single for the first time in a long time, were friends from the internet. It started off as a group to complain about dating with, so I wouldn’t bother my “IRL” friends with the day to day trivialities of dating apps and could save only the best stories for all my married-and-otherwise-coupled-friends. Then, over the years, it became more.
Twitter friends are people to complain about dating with. They are also people to give you unfiltered advice when you really need it. They know a lot about you, but they don’t have years of history with you biasing the feedback they give you. They’re people to play “Weird Or Normal?” with, when you aren’t sure if something happening is okay and you need outsider opinions. They host you in their cities; you host them in yours. They buy you a drink when you’re in their area. They will jaunt off to Amsterdam for a few days with you simply because you both have had a shitty couple of months. They will drive you around for hours in a single day just so you can hang out with some Alpacas. They will let three people and their dogs stay with them for a weekend so that you don’t have to celebrate your birthday alone. They will make an effort to meet up with you in random cities, even for just an hour or two. They are always up for anything — a museum, a play, a random garden in the middle of New York City, a political protest. They will go to a new restaurant in your town that you want to try, even though they have been there a million times. They will be your first text when you have something really insane or judgmental to say, when you need to talk to someone who isn’t going to think less of you. They are people with whom one minute you can be talking about the weather and what you are doing this weekend, and the next minute you are talking about your masturbation habits in great detail, and the minute after that you’re exchanging photos of your dogs. They will send you random packages in the mail just because they know you are sad about something, or to congratulate you on a major milestone in your life. When you do something really important, like defend a dissertation, they will be the first people you tell. They are people you can vent about your job with, and who insist that everything will eventually work out for you, personally and professionally, because they have seen all of your weirdest qualities (things you only show the internet) and for some reason, they still love you anyway.
Most of all, when those days come where you are feeling down about being single, when it is easy to reflect on your former life and where things went wrong and what role you played in that, they are people you can look at and think, “I wouldn’t know these people if I were in a different situation.” They can make you think, that while you don’t really believe in fate or destiny or divine intervention, that maybe things still have a way of working themselves out.
For me, I think one of the biggest unexpected impacts my internet friends have had on me, is I find I am now more open with my “IRL” friends. I am a fairly private person, and I don’t often share a lot about how I am feeling or what I am thinking. It is a weird combination of not wanting to bother people and just being pretty content on my own so not really even thinking about sharing something with people because I don’t necessarily find it all that important. But, these internet friendships, that grew from spouting off the most random thoughts and feelings into the internet abyss, and have now transitioned into steady texts about everything from the mundane to the really serious, have served as a reminder that when people like you, they want to hear from you. They appreciate your input. And I honestly think my friendships with “IRL” people I have known for much longer are stronger than ever. I attribute a lot of that to my internet friends.
So thank you, to all of you. To those I have met and those I haven’t. To anyone who has commiserated with me, or offered advice, or listened while I gave advice of my own. And, especially those who have spent time with me “IRL.” I’m pretty annoying, and you da real MVPs. You have all made single life, and life in general, so much brighter, and while I am not really one for many feelings, know that I am grateful to know you, and in your own weird ways you have all made me a better, more patient, and more open person. Thank you for everything.