April 14th 2017
When I was a child, my mom always told me not to talk to strangers and to not give my personal information out on the internet. But, to my mother’s dismay, I am happy to say the internet has helped connect me with someone who is now one of my best friends.
I first started social networking when I was around 10 years old. That year I made an AIM account, a MySpace, and I had sites like Webkinz and Club Penguin (RIP Club Penguin). Those accounts were pretty much the Fort Knox of social media accounts where you could barely find out anything about me except that my name was Jessica…possibly…some accounts you didn’t even know that much. But as I got older and social media became more prevalent in my life, I began to open myself up more to the possibility of meeting people online as long as it only chatting online and not meeting in person.
Around sophomore or junior year of high school I made an account on a social media called GifBoom. (I mentioned this site before and the friend I met in my post about going to Buffalo last month, but I will take a little more time to go into detail about the entire experience.) GifBoom was an app that came about right as Instagram was starting to push its way to the top of the social media hierarchy. Unlike Instagram (at the time), GifBoom allowed you to create brief GIFs and the earliest version of what is now known as Boomerang. When the app was first introduced, it only had a few thousand users so having over a thousand followers made you “famous”. Well, surprise, I was famous. I had between 1,800 and 2,000 followers by the time I stopped using the app and people had actually made fan art of me. It honestly feels like an entirely different lifetime thinking back, but it was fun while it lasted.
Through GifBoom I met my friend Devan. When I saw her last month, I asked her if she remembers how we started talking on GifBoom and sadly, she doesn’t know how we actually started talking either. But, around the end of 2011 I believe, we became friends and would talk to each other almost every day. We bonded over our love for YouTube and photography and creativity in general and it was so great to find someone who understood me and my passions on that level. We were also at an age where we were hitting major turning points of growing up. We were dealing with love and heartbreak and finding our place in the world and at a lonely time in each of our lives, we knew we had someone who was on our side.
It wasn’t until 2015 that I decided that it was a realistic possibility for Devan and I to actually meet in person. So I set up a 3 day vacation to Buffalo that summer for us to finally meet in person and I had an awesome time. When we met it wasn’t even like we were just social media friends, it felt so natural and like I’ve seen her many times before. When I saw her again last month, I felt the exact same way. Being her friend feels so natural and I feel like the distance factor will become even easier as we grow older. Since she is someone who is as open to traveling and adventure as I am, I can see us taking many trip together and making tons of memories no matter how far we live from one another.
Do talk to strangers, you never know what they could teach you.