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Author Topic: Togetherness in the age of the internet  (Read 764 times)
Absentmind
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« on: April 04, 2023 @951.53 »

Hello all! I am currently doing a project about togetherness on the internet. I think we often focus on the real negatives of the internet, big tech, privacy issues, scams and trolls. I was wondering if I could hear some stories about friendships you've made, partners you've found, or communities you've felt apart of online! Feel free to be sappy :4u:

I'll start with mine:

When I was 18 I didn't really have anything going on, I was a real NEET that spent all his time on the computer, 24/7. I didn't have many friends and I spent all my time playing world of warcraft. I met my now closest friend Jay one day when I joined a new guild but at the time he was just someone I kinda chatted with now and again. One day he randomly called me on Skype and asked me to play Heroes of the storm with him, I was a little freaked out that he just approached me like that but we did. We ended up talking all the time since I didn't have a job, I remember I was so emotionally closed off and he was so emotionally open, I used to get bullied for speaking my mind and feelings around my old group of friends and it was really nice to figure out how talk about things on an emotional level that I couldn't with anyone else. We talked about girls we liked, bonded over and shared music and he really opened my mind and help me expand my very narrow world view. He is physically disabled and can't get out much and it took me sometime to be able to wrap my head how he feels and his emotions surrounding it, like I said I had a really narrow world view and I didn't really get his problems at first, but I came to understand his problems and in turn understand my own problems too. And if it wasn't for the internet and the virtual worlds we hung out in, I never would have met him, before that I was a massive NEET and didn't have anything going on and I'd do it all again to get where I am as a person today. All thanks to my bud!

Theres my story, It feels really good to show appreciation for someone special! I look forward to hear to reading about your wholesome stories!
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« Last Edit: April 04, 2023 @955.87 by Absentmind » Logged

doubleincision
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« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2023 @821.69 »

this is a very nice idea, and one i relate to a lot because i met my partner of 12 years online!

we had both been active in the same fandom spaces, so we started chatting on Skype and shitposting together on Tumblr and stuff like that. we just hit it off really well, we understood each others' senses of humor perfectly and had a lot of similar interests. we would do Skype calls that lasted for literal days— we were both students at the time so we would start a call, talk all night, fall asleep together and then wake up, say good morning, and go about our day, with the call running the whole time. i think our longest-ever call was something like 96 hours!

eventually i worked up the courage to ask if he wanted to date, he said yes, and we've been together ever since and plan to get married soon :4u: both of us have changed so much over the years just because we've gotten older and grown as people but i've never stopped feeling like he is my absolute best friend and the one person that i love and trust more than anyone else on earth. and we never would have met without the Internet!

side note, we recently discovered that our exact anniversary is 9/11 so now we always say "NEVER FORGET" when we talk about it lmaooo
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Mayflower
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« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2023 @33.07 »

I think the internet is a very special thing for me. Its been not just the biggest timesink of my life, Im fairly certain without it (or less of it at the least) id be somewhere very different in life. For me it started when I joined a small rhythm game community, which at first was nothing more than just another big community I felt like I didnt belong to very well.
Before it sure I had a few danganronpa rp servers with good friends but looking back I wasnt 100% connected with the people there either.
Regardless, in the community I discovered my love for programming and got to making my first real scripts with Lua, and from there on out the server changed from a place to just ask for help to a server Id actively spend time in partaking in the community
It was cozy, but still a little disconnected, which does happen when in a big server.
This changed after it came out that I was behind a twitter account everyone knew by name but didnt know who was behind it (I was just commenting on an injoke account everyday haha)
Long story short it lead to me joining a smaller off-shoot of the community and I think I have found the best friends Ive ever had there, It lead to my reputation in the community to reach "something weird is happening? Yea thats Mayflowers fault." and it even lead to me getting the job I have today.

The internets done so much for me in terms of meeting people and making genuine connections and I dont think id ever be able to do that kind of thing in real life thanks to social anxiety.

I love the people Ive met and Im just thankful I can talk to similar-minded people without having to scour the deepest, darkest alleys to find people who are vaguely like-minded
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« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2023 @45.08 »

I will offer one peculiar online story of mine - the lesson being, you are sometimes closer than you think!

Years ago, I used to be on Tumblr and wanted to get to know more people from there, so I submitted to a blog that published your submission consisting of a selfie and a few facts about yourself and how to reach you, so that people may discover you and hit you up. It was visible in a few tags as well. Quite a few did hit me up, or liked the post, followed me. I followed one back, and we started messaging. Nothing of her blog suggested it and I didn't share anything about it online either, but due to talking, we found out that we were going to the same university, the same degree and same semester. We had sat in the same lectures before and still did. Next lecture, we actually sat next to eachother and met in real life (and we also dated later on, but are no longer together).

I'll always remember that. The chances were so small. The fact that I decided to write the post, that it got published, that she saw it and actually got interested. That I really followed her back, that we actually messaged and not just silently followed eachother.

The people reading your posts, engaging with you, following you, checking up on you can be all kinds of people around you that you weren't even aware of yet. Without that submission I made on Tumblr, I wouldn't have gotten to know her even when she was just a few rows away from me in a lecture in real life.
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« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2023 @59.13 »

so for a good few years, i used this forum-chatroom hybrid on the game transformice called "cafe" as my #1 social avenue on the internet. it was a whole thing and a half tbh and i have plenty of bizarre stories i could tell about that place but ignoring all that i met my best friend there!

it was around the end of 2019/start of 2020 and play by post roleplaying was seeing a little bit of a revival there. now roleplaying used to be a bit of a staple on cafe, it was rare you'd not see some kind of roleplay going on, but they lost a lot of traction at some point and kind of disappeared until early 2020. i joined in on the new roleplays and even made a few myself. there was very much a little bit of a clique of roleplayers on there, generally it was the same few 10 or so people that would do them with the same general group of OCs, and a good handful of us ended up becoming a pretty good friend group- me and my bestie included! we made a lot of different characters and stuff together and they're still some of our staple ocs to this day, they've got a good chunk of (slightly disjointed) lore together.

we eventually moved over to discord from cafe (and kinda killed the entire cafe roleplaying scene in doing so because we were... the entire scene lol) because there was some trolling going on by other cafers that just got kind of annoying, and from then there were unfortunately some falling outs and dropping off of the groups, but the core group is mostly all still there even if we don't all chat too much.

my friend and i were always some of the closer of the bunch. there were a few sort of informal sub-groups in the little roleplay clique that would most often reply to each other and we were one of them. ours main ocs all had a lot of interconnected lore and stuff with each other- they still do even though they've changed a lot! and we ended up having quite a lot in common with each other, so it was kinda inevitable that we became good friends :) 




i also met another good friend (unfortunately we aren't really friends anymore, though; nothing happened between us we just drifted apart you know how it goes) on cafe. their profile picture was a screenshot from a splatoon fan comic we both liked (shoutout to dissonant melody!) and i sent them a message about it and we just sort of ended up bonding through it and splatoon in general! and we ended up good friends for some time afterwards. i met a lot of other people through them that i would be friends with for a good bit and tbh although i can't really trace everything there's a lot i feel like i probably wouldn't have gotten into if they hadn't introduced me to some stuff. melonland included! i first heard of neocities through them although it would be a good while until i ever started using it, and without neocities i'd never have made it to the rest of the small web  :omg: .

there is... a LOT i could say about cafe as aforementioned and not all of it is positive but those stories are for another thread and another day, & honestly i would be a completely different person if i had never used it i think! so i cant say i regret all the hours i spent on there.
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Y2KStardust
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« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2023 @183.38 »

YESYESYES I believe in this topic massively!! I owe most of my social skills to the internet; I'm autistic and did *not* have many friends prior to beginning to explore kids games, forums and MMOs online.
I wholeheartedly believe the internet of the 90s through early 2010s was *incredible* for people like me, things like forum etiquette guides and harmless interactions with others were pivotal for teaching different social interactions.

I met most of my current friends either online, or by growing closer over websites like discord even after meeting irl :)
Neopets in particular was fundamental to me and I appreciate the nature of the forums to delete things when a board on the forum is full, bc it means I don't really have any embarrassing history to go back to! But at the same time, having life-long friends from these spaces means more to me than anything else in the world.

And I like the nature of the internet where "just log off", or just make another account, is actual advice that works. I very early on kinda internalised that idea, that blocking liberally and logging off/disappearing on other players if I was uncomfortable was better than forcing myself to stay.

And.. hm. I also like that both fan communities and autistic behaviour are so... almost build into online community. Some of the first fan forums turned out to be run by autistics, yknow! :3 It's acceptable to squee, to use emojis/emoticons as social captioning... It's just. I would not be me without my little internet spaces!
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« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2023 @515.30 »

YESYESYES I believe in this topic massively!! I owe most of my social skills to the internet; I'm autistic and did *not* have many friends prior to beginning to explore kids games, forums and MMOs online.
I wholeheartedly believe the internet of the 90s through early 2010s was *incredible* for people like me, things like forum etiquette guides and harmless interactions with others were pivotal for teaching different social interactions.

I met most of my current friends either online, or by growing closer over websites like discord even after meeting irl :)
Neopets in particular was fundamental to me and I appreciate the nature of the forums to delete things when a board on the forum is full, bc it means I don't really have any embarrassing history to go back to! But at the same time, having life-long friends from these spaces means more to me than anything else in the world.

And I like the nature of the internet where "just log off", or just make another account, is actual advice that works. I very early on kinda internalised that idea, that blocking liberally and logging off/disappearing on other players if I was uncomfortable was better than forcing myself to stay.

And.. hm. I also like that both fan communities and autistic behaviour are so... almost build into online community. Some of the first fan forums turned out to be run by autistics, yknow! :3 It's acceptable to squee, to use emojis/emoticons as social captioning... It's just. I would not be me without my little internet spaces!

i relate so much to two sentiments here: "the internet and fandom were great for my autism" and "i am SO glad the Neopets forums didn't archive my childhood cringe" :grin:

i've never thought about how beneficial "netiquette" guidelines were to my social development before, but you're totally right. i think it's because online, like in a forum for example, the general rules and codes of conduct are given to you in text form, which is much easier for my brain to understand and process compared to just struggling to pick up and memorize social rules in a real-life situation. plus you can lurk and read through posts and replies made by other people to study how they talk to each other. and even though forum rules are always specialized to whatever forum you're posting in, there are certain universal rules for social interaction that apply to both online talkin' and real life :ha:
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« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2023 @549.73 »

i relate so much to two sentiments here: "the internet and fandom were great for my autism" and "i am SO glad the Neopets forums didn't archive my childhood cringe" :grin:

i've never thought about how beneficial "netiquette" guidelines were to my social development before, but you're totally right. i think it's because online, like in a forum for example, the general rules and codes of conduct are given to you in text form, which is much easier for my brain to understand and process compared to just struggling to pick up and memorize social rules in a real-life situation. plus you can lurk and read through posts and replies made by other people to study how they talk to each other. and even though forum rules are always specialized to whatever forum you're posting in, there are certain universal rules for social interaction that apply to both online talkin' and real life :ha:

Hehe, right? Like, on one hand, some of those conversations built the foundation for how I talk to people NOW, but also... oh my god, just the MEMORIES of some of them has me cringing.

And mm, I agree w/ what you said about lurking! For me, seeing different interactions go down on the forums and how people perceived things like emphasis, or emotes, or... anything, really, was just SO helpful as a method to understand. I didn't have to be the one interacting, I could just sit and virtually people-watch and take in what was going on. Plus, being able to refer *back* to a literal rules list! What a godsend, I still maintain that's what I needed in real life :grin:
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« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2023 @638.08 »

Would definitely agree with what's been said about autism and internet communication. I used to lurk-read forums as a kid too, lol. To this day I still prefer how conversations work online and having time to really consider my words as I type them. I don't have that while talking verbally and it's hard to construct my thoughts by just Talking. Most of my friends are online, and while I'm trying to balance that out a bit, I still do prefer how communication works on the internet. Maybe I should write letters, lol

Also, somewhat recently I found out that one of my first online accounts (from when I was 9-13  :ohdear: ) is still up, and everything I had ever posted there including old art is still perfectly preserved. I was really cringe online but this was a website that was targeted mostly at other kids so I never really felt the pressure of cringe culture until later when I branched out a bit... Anyway, I came back and saw lots of years-old comments on my profile asking where I had gone and why I had left without telling anyone. It made me a bit sad, but it warmed my heart to see that I had had such an impact on other people online even when I was so young, that they would genuinely miss me and care about me. And that's definitely "togetherness" to me.
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