Monday, 8 August 2011

Online Friendships

This weekend I went camping with a large group of girlfriends, their partners and children. On the campsite there were about 12 families/ladies, plus on Saturday we were joined by a few others.

Of all the people who were there, I had actually only met 5 or 6 before we went camping.Yet the women that were there are some of the most important people in my life,and people I trust with my innermost thoughts/feelings and secrets. They know the ins and outs of my daily life, and we “talk” everyday - via an internet forum!

Five years ago when I qualified as a teacher, I joined a teaching forum, of which most of these ladies were a member also. We were known only to each other as our online user names, and although we posted about daily life/problems etc it was in an anoynomous capacity, no one could be identified.

Three years ago I got pregnant with my eldest son and started to post on the maternity thread and “met” many of the ladies who I have shared this weekend with. Over the course of our pregnancies we developed a trust in each other, and when the teaching forum changed beyond anything we recognised as a safe place to be, we branched off and our own forum was created, via a Facebook group.

The original forum became our haven. A place we could go with questions/rants or for a chat. All of the members were teachers or people that worked in education and were either trying for a baby, pregnant or already had children. On this new forum, user names were changed to our “real life” names, we named our children and partners in posts, rather than using awful internet abbreviations such as dh/ds etc and shared photos of our children. We became firm friends.

Since then another incarnation of the forum has been born, and this one is a secured forum and new members are invitation only, or people who an exsisting member has reccomended. This has lead to the most amazing place. I have made some very wonderful and close friends, and over the course of the last 3-4 years we have laughed together, cried together, supported our friends through devastating loses of babies, children, friends and family members and become a family. A family that we have chosen!

It must seem to my “real life” friends that I am a complete liar/know all, because I always have a story about “i know someone who…”. Do i explain how I met these women? Only occasionally to family members maybe. There still seems to somewhat of a stigma about becoming friends /meeting up with people you have met on the internet, at least amongst some of my friends.

To me my “pink pages” are a virtual Starbucks. I can sit down at my laptop with a coffee or food, I can log on and I know there will always be someone to talk to. My “pink girls” are my go to people with any fears and dreams, the source of advice about how to get a 2 year old to clean his teeth or work/health/fashion queries. There is always someone there who I trust and who knows me.

I guess what I am trying to say is that it’s not how you know someone or how you met them that is important, but the relationship you have with them. These girls will grow old with me I am sure of it, and we joked about talking about our Grandchildren in a couple of decades (hopefully) time.

These girls know my heart and soul, and I know theirs.

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