I like most people am involved in several group chats in Facebook Messenger, and for the most part I genuinely knew everyone who is added into the conversation. However, there has been the odd occasion where I don’t know someone, someone who is involved in the group outside the realms in which I know them- usually from high school.
Just an example of how many groups I am in (Although yes some are uni group assessments)
I always thought it was silly when people said they became ‘really good’ friends with someone through the internet, was it something I had never experienced as a kid as I was not allowed social media and have always been very conscious about safety online in relation to strangers (Yes, I know I sound a bit like your mum right now)
See this is the only info on my FB
But funnily enough, at the ripe age of 20, I know understand how it is possible.
I am involved in a group chat with eight beautiful girls, seven of whom I knew before the chat was made. Yes, do the math, there was one I did not know before we created ‘Pizza Gurls’ (We had plans to go to a pizza restaurant so the name was fitting, and it just stuck)
The girl who I didn’t know, was unable to attend the event but for future events we did not remove her from the group.
The group started messaging each other about random things, like boys, food and memes. This particular girl, whom I will call Eve* (for privacy) and I were the most frequent in sending messages and often were the only two active at the time. We started to have our own conversations within the group chat and learn things about one another over the course of two months or so. Eve was funny and kind, we had similar senses of humor and this resulted in good banter.
We started sending jokes memes like such (source)
We messaged nearly everyday and added each other on different forms of social media to further build our relationship, still without ever having meeting each other. I know where she had been to school, where she was going to uni and what she was studying, I knew about her boyfriend and oversea holidays. I honestly, called Eve a friend, despite still having never met her. The internet made this possible the notion of social media and instant messenger has helped form, build and maintain relationships without ever having to deal with face-to-face interactions.
Caliandro (2018) discusses how the lines between online and offline worlds are becoming more and more blurred, with the technological communication become just as frequent as face-to-face and changing the forms of relationships. This is similar I really began to understand whilst, not only forming this friendship with Eve, but maintaining a lot of my relationships in other aspects of my life.
UPDATE: I have now met Eve and she is just as amazing in person as she is online. We were both so happy to have finally met!
Our first meeting place- North Gong Pub!\
Caliandro, 2017, Digital Methods for Ethnography: Analytical Concepts for Ethnographers
Exploring Social Media Environments, Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, Vol. 47(5) 551–578