Obviously, I typed my way into the comment box and clicked "ok" but everyone's thoughts were swarming by the minute so the site buffered. I hit refresh and to check if my reply went through I went down the "Ctrl + F" route and typed in my first name. Instead of finding my comment, I found Emma. She said "I feel like I haven't found my favorite blog yet but I do really enjoy Anne's Scribbles and Doodles".
This blog was only four months old then so for someone to actually say they enjoy it, much less have found it, really surprised me. So I took it upon myself to contact her and say my thanks. We've exchanged loads of emails after and even added each other on Facebook. We've talked about things like music, theater, birthday parties, love, overcoming bullies, university and so much more. We've exchanged random photographs of our days. I actually think of her as my Kiwi little sister. One day, given the chance and the finances, we hope to actually meet in person but for now we'd be each other's cyber chummies.
I came earlier than the call time and got to meet a few of the other early birds. We were sat in a table together with some of the other attendees. It was a blessing of sorts to have found friends in them because a year later, I was packing my stuff and moving to the capital city. The girls I met during the event became my first friends in the jungle that is Manila. We were people from all walks of life with varying passions, careers and age. I've never seen a group so dynamic and yet so alike. I used to only see their names in the comments section of said digital influencer's blog and now here we are. We've gone on a few dates and are planning for more.
Plus would you believe that when I got sick early this year and had to undergo a series of operations, I surprisingly met one of these girls inside the surgery room? And honestly, nothing feels more calming than knowing that someone you personally know and trust was there to help save your life.
It was with this family that I met new people, kindred souls with the same passions and hobbies and individuals from different cities who speak different languages and traveled to places my ears have not heard of. It was also through it that I've seen the faces behind the blogs that I binge read during my down time. I've learned a lot about this hobby and craft through them. In fact, it was through this community that I scored my first blogging gig.
To date, we'd often check up on each other through the comments on our sites, in social media and of course old school texts and calls. (Did I just say old school? Ha!) We'd plan dates too (and sometimes travels) and run to each other during events. I've honestly found myself a family in them.
So what's my point?
You see, I used to think that real friendships were only those built and forged through personal and face to face encounters. I've been told that relationships with a digital origin wouldn't last, that they're superficial and fake. I beg to disagree. I have experience as evidence now.
The internet may not be the safest of all places to look for chummies but it sure isn't as bad as what many would assume it is. If you know where to look and given this so called "destiny" I guess it's quite an interesting place. Plus, we cannot deny that it's a good avenue for us to reach out to our peers when distance makes it impossible to connect.
But then, it doesn't stop there.
The internet has been an avenue for me to *initially* forge connections with people but its digital nature still leaves me hanging. "Bitin" as what we'd call it. It's a good tool to get the ball rolling but it's not everything and relationships shouldn't be all revolving around it.
I'm thankful that cyberspace brought me to people and me to them but I still prefer hearing their laughter over coffee, sharing banters, going on trips, falling in line for this ice cream everyone's been raving about, shopping, talking about life and love and the things that go in our heads at 2:00 am.
You still have to reach out. Meet as much as possible. Take loads of photographs. Print them out and hang them on your dresser (or blast them on Instagram and what have you). And in cases where distance puts us apart, we manage to send each other snippets of our days and adventures no matter how random, seemingly boring or full blown adventurous they may be.
Case in point my good friend Jewel whom I met by virtue of Case #3. She went on a trip to Mountain Province lately and has been blasting me with photos taken from her phone. She actually invited me to come with her but I was short on the budget so I had to decline. *cue tears* Thank goodness for mobile photography she got to sort of bring me with her. She sent breathtaking shots of her trip using her Huawei P9. I thought she took them with a DSLR but I was wrong. Apparently, the Huawei P9's camera is co-engineered with Leica. It has dual lenses that produces high quality photos and allows users to take amazing monochrome, slo-mo, colored and light painting photos.
I guess my point in all of these blabber is that friendships can be found in the unlikeliest of places even the internet. Caution should always be there but fear and prejudice should never hinder you from reaching out to people, digitally, physically and emotionally. The internet has changed the way I see friendship forever. Who knew a like, a heart, an email or a comment would translate to an actual handshake, a tap on the shoulder, a gazillion photos and a warm hug?