Friends from far away

Stephanie Liang

More stories from Stephanie Liang

Although+separated+by+distance%2C+the+Internet+makes+it+easier+to+communicate.+Connection+is+possible+due+to+being+online.

Isabella Garcia

Although separated by distance, the Internet makes it easier to communicate. Connection is possible due to being online.

Ever since quarantine started, I made so many online friends, mostly through a server on Discord. A social media platform that anyone can use for free, Discord allows users to friend each other, chat about their favorite topics, share artwork, promote their own social media, create a character to use in roleplay and a lot more. Members can join “servers”, which can have anywhere from two to 800,000 members. The one I am in has just over 400, and it’s where I’ve made some of my closest friends. From making me feel better to influencing self-improvement, my online friends have made a positive impact on my life.

In the world we live in today, it’s easy to access social media networks and apps, such as Twitter and YouTube. There’s a wide variety of social media platforms that can allow people to meet and connect with one another from all around the world. With a quick search, I’ve been able to easily find others who share the same interests as me. Whether I want to share my hobbies, find some friends to play video games with, talk about my favorite shows or fangirl about a content creator, there is a community out there for everything.

Over time, I have noticed how much being on the server and having online friends has helped and benefited me. As someone who enjoys playing video games and doing craft projects, this server is my cup of tea.  It is great to have people who you can share your passions with and get advice from in order to improve. When I reflect back on when I first joined the server, I realize there are so many ways that I have improved my skills and improved as a person.

One example is my increased self-confidence and ability to talk to people I do not know. In the beginning, I would never talk or turn on my camera in voice chat (VC)—a place in Discord servers where people can join to talk to one another using their voice. Eventually the more active members, including myself, got to know one another and bond over different things. Ultimately, within this time I gradually gained the confidence to talk in VC and show my face.

The increase in self-confidence did not happen instantly, nor did it come from just being comfortable with my online friends. The main contributor was that everyone in the server was always nice and supportive. Whenever anyone posts their artwork, positive reactions and compliments follow. Whenever anyone shows off their cosplays, messages of praise and awe are not far behind. The encouragement, support and positivity from my online friends has boosted my self-confidence so much.

As I continue to talk to my online friends everyday, I notice how much my skills and hobbies have improved. My art, for example, has changed for the better and improved greatly due to the practice I have had from drawing my friends’ characters and the compliments I get afterwards are what always makes me want to keep drawing. I also picked up a few hobbies from my online friends, such as roleplaying and cosplaying, and I have seen myself improve those skills.

My online friends and I feel like a one, big, caring family. I have friends from different countries, different religions, different ages and different sexualities. We all support each other no matter who we are. The server also has a vent “channel”, a miniature group chat within a server, for anyone to spew out their problems with no shame. Having known my online friends enough to trust them, I am usually comfortable with sharing how I feel and being genuine about what I say.

According to Stephanie Reich in the New York Daily News, “Many contacts between adolescents are mediated through technology and can provide additional opportunities for friends to spend time together, share thoughts and display affection than in offline spaces alone.”

I have used the vent channel often during bad days and each and every time, my friends are always there to cheer me up and make me feel better. I get sent hugs in the form of emojis and GIFs. Their kind words never fail to make me smile. It has been really helpful to have my friends there for me to help me keep going when I feel like I can’t on my own.

An article by Science Daily reads that “positive social relationships, social support and social acceptance help shape the development of self-esteem in people over time across ages 4 to 76.” This is true for me as the time spent and my experiences in the server has lifted my self-esteem and made me feel better about myself and my skills.

Overall, having online friends has benefited me so much in my life. My self-confidence and self-esteem has greatly increased and I have my online friends to thank for that. I’ve learned new skills and picked up new hobbies I never would have thought about without the influence of my online friends.