Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always had internet friends. Not some random person across town who I’d meet once in a while. My friends were people I had never met in real life. Interacting only through written form and trust.
When I moved to São Paulo in 2008 I had internet friends there before I boarded the plane. Now I’m gone, and so are they, living in Mexico. The same happened with Vancouver. Some of the people I work with today were good internet friends more than a year before I moved in.
I have intense trust issues in real life. Like anyone else, I’ve been disappointed, tricked and felt helpless in the company of people I believed I could trust. So I changed. I’m afraid of challenges I can’t tackle by myself. If everyone else bails on me, I’ll still be able to get to the end of it alone.
This perception has always been different for me online. Maybe I just don’t feel as vulnerable as in real life. Anonymity walls and physical space grow between all involved parties. That’s where my friendships thrive. That got a huge boost because of the youtube channel. Suddenly people from all over were talking to me. With some of them I was able to strike meaningful and long conversations, going past the professional interaction.
That’s how I spent a month in Japan last year. That’s how I spent a month in Europe this year. I went across five different countries and spent time meeting in person lots of folks. Folks I only knew through the internet.
It involved work, planning and going with the flow. As I come back home, I got a handful of white hairs. They came from trying to figure out accommodations, juggling the money I had, understanding foreign languages, train schedules, bus schedules, plane schedules and, most importantly, people’s schedules.
With a tinge of pride, I say: all of this while being off Facebook. Ha! When I first thought of this trip I imagined the social network would’ve been the hub for all planning and scheduling. Yet, I quit it in December and I held my ground, resorting to many other contact forms to reach people.
I come back home with a different mindset when it comes to trusting people and a very positive experience in Europe.
Keep being awesome, internet!