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Column: The internet is not a dangerous place

‘One small post can cause great years of friendship.’

%22Three+years+of+texting+my+online+friends+made+my+self-esteem+higher+than+it+was+previously.+I+actually+smiled+without+faking+it%3B+I+was+a+new+person.%22

"Three years of texting my online friends made my self-esteem higher than it was previously. I actually smiled without faking it; I was a new person."

Photo by Edna Hernandez

Photo by Edna Hernandez

"Three years of texting my online friends made my self-esteem higher than it was previously. I actually smiled without faking it; I was a new person."

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During elementary and middle school, I had friends – not a lot though. Every single one of my friends had a phone, while me, I only had a book. I begged my parents to buy me a phone, but they insisted I was too young. I thought it was the end of the world because of the influences from my peers.

At the end of fifth grade, I received my first smartphone; it was a black LG K3. I download a messaging app called “KIK.” I spent all my time texting my best friend, but we start drifting apart when we reached middle school. She became popular, while I became depressed.

Though I had a small group of friends, I still felt depressed, keeping my feelings bottled up until one day it all exploded. I lost friends whom I thought were loyal.

It was the summer before eighth grade and I was scrolling through Instagram. A post caught my eye that said, “Comment your KIK username and we’ll add you to a group chat.” At first I hesitated and told myself,  “What if they are 30-year-old men trying to find a 13-year-old girl?” However, I decided to join anyway.

Within a few minutes I was invited to a group chat with about 50 people in it, but there was one person who caught my attention. Her name was Alison. She was funny and liked all the things I liked, so I decided to text her on private chat. We hit it off great. She then asked if I wanted to join another private group chat with other people she was friends with, and I gladly accepted.

Once I was in the chat, I noticed weird messages. Alison’s friends introduced themselves in an odd way, and so did I. I felt like I fit right in.

There have been days when I’ve felt worthless, pushed everyone away and tried to not burden others with my worries. My online friends caught on to what was happening and stayed with me even when I didn’t answer. They told me I was worth everything. Them being there for me when I’ve pushed them away made me realize they do care and love me as much as I love them. A simple “hey” made me happy.

I became close to them, especially my current best friend, Damon. Three years of texting my online friends made my self-esteem higher than it was previously. I actually smiled without faking it; I was a new person.

I learned about cultures; in the United Kingdom, I learned they love football so much that students leave school early or they will cancel lessons to simply watch the game. In Canada, Thanksgiving is on the Oct. 8 instead of the fourth Thursday of November.

I’ve had multiple people come to me saying, “How do you know if they are real people?” It’s frustrating but I understand. All you hear on the internet is about an individual meeting a toxic person online that leads to bad interactions, yet again people need to understand that not all people on the internet are horrible human beings.

One small post can cause great years of friendship.

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Column: The internet is not a dangerous place