The value of connecting with people worldwide


Photo by DuoNguyen from Unsplash

Despite understanding the safety concerns behind making online friends, Managing Editor Rin Ryu still connected with friends online. Thanks to these friends, she has support groups around the world to rely on.

Rin Ryu, Managing Editor

“Stranger danger.”

The phrase was always said by schools, adults, and friends. The phrase taught me to keep away from strangers, especially online. Despite the fear I had of the mystery people behind screens, curiosity got the best of me. 

Like most other children, I was raised never to talk to strangers, but in my final years of elementary school, I downloaded PicCollage. I used this app to post collages; over time, my account gained a lot of attention. As embarrassing as it is to admit, I’ve met most of my online friends through this app.

Unlike making friends in real life, I found that making connections online was much easier. I found a sense of comfort in the control I had; unlike the traditional friend, I had control over when to talk and what to talk about. At this point in my life, I was extremely introverted and had trouble opening up to people, but making friends online helped me to strengthen my social skills.

Online friends are often criticized for being inauthentic, but the experiences I have gotten from them have been anything but that. The support resulting from years of bonding only strengthens with each year. 

Over the years, I’ve watched them grow and find their passions. Just recently, I got to experience them going into their first year of college. Although we have become a lot busier since elementary school, we still text and call frequently. Just like the traditional friend, we text about anything; it doesn’t have to be anything especially meaningful or serious. It can be something as frivolous as what we ate for dinner or buying new headphones. In fact, just recently one of my friends sent a photo of Jupiter he took on his campus. 

The concerns regarding online friends all focus on safety. Although I understand this notion, online friends can be a great outlet for kids to develop their social skills and find a support system. After all, it only makes sense to take advantage of the growing interconnectivity of the world.