Near and far, new friends can be found with the click of a button and a simple hello

An+image+portraying+the+countless+connections+the+internet+can+provide+to+its+users.

An image portraying the countless connections the internet can provide to its users.

While I’m still deathly afraid to disobey my parents, there is one rebellious act of my past that stands out. I’m not sure what my motive was, but I know that if my sister hadn’t been a tattle-tale, I would have kept the secret for over six years. Yes, I participated in one of every parent’s nightmares: talking to strangers online.

After a year of this and never having a serial killer come into my bedroom at night, I embraced every online platform I found. I simply couldn’t get enough of the casual yet deep conversations I had with people around the world.

Even with my internet innocence, I quickly navigated my way around toxic friendships and discovered those that truly mattered. It wasn’t that I lacked friends in my day-to-day life, but the internet provided a massive portal to billions more. With the click of a button, I can talk to people all over the world, and it doesn’t cost anything.

They made me realize just how similar and connected we are. It all started with a group of middle schoolers who wrote stories together, and my love for online chatting grew. I’ve kept in touch with some of my online friends for longer than I could have ever imagined. Some interactions may last for a day and others years. Sometimes, our lives become too hectic to communicate until the summer arrives once again, but every year, we pick up right where we left off and celebrate all that has happened in the space between. 

Sometimes our lives become too hectic to communicate until the summer arrives once again, but every year, we pick up right where we left off and celebrate all that has happened in the space between. ”

I became obsessed with the beauty of simple conversation. Everyone has their own story to tell, and everyone has a different perspective on the world. It seems scary to talk to a stranger on the internet, but it’s no more dangerous than walking up to a random person on the street. And soon after an initial conversation, they are no longer strangers. 

It is estimated that the average person will only meet 80,000 people. While this may seem to be a massive number, it means that we’ll only ever interact with around .001% of the potential friends that could be found in the vast world. Online chatting platforms allow easy access to millions more, and I’m so grateful for the people I’ve met. 

Currently, I’m improving my Spanish skills by talking to native Spanish speakers in Ecuador, El Salvador, and Spain. I’m communicating with my Polish buddy team from Odyssey of the Mind about how excited we are for our World Finals competition, and I’m talking to fellow writers who inspire me with their creativity and passion. 

Yes, the internet should be approached with caution, but my experiences have given me a new hope in humanity. It’s rare if I can’t find someone to cheer me up, and I get an extreme sense of validation knowing that someone thousands of miles away cares enough to know all the meaningless details of my day and check-in to see if I’m alright. 

In the future, I hope the dangerous stigma around the internet can remain cautious but dissolve from the level that it’s currently at. One can never know what they’ll find in the unknown; I’ve found an entire community of people who aren’t afraid to be unequivocally themselves and encouraged me to open up to the untapped facets of my conversational personality.