A lot of people are somewhat wary of people they meet on the internet. And they should be. There are some pretty weird people out there. But there are some pretty great people, too. I met 4 of my best friends through Camp NaNoWriMo, a camp-themed writing forum held in April and July. Essentially, the goal is to write as many words as possible in each month. (I have not yet reached my goal for the month. I’m not even close. Oops.) Campers can choose to be placed in a cabin, they can set up their own cabin and invite friends, or they can choose to go solo. My first camp session, in April of 2014, I requested a random cabin containing two people I already knew (one in real life, one through the internet).
Over the next thirty days, we all grew closer. Naomi and Danielle already knew each other (they’re kind of third cousins, but it’s a long story); Laura and I had been friends since kindergarten; and we’d met Torin through NaNoWriMo. The next camp session, we added Cindy, someone Danielle had met through a website called deviantArt, to the group.
We were cautious, of course. We didn’t give out our real names or our Facebook accounts. Instead, we created a Google+ hangout. (We’re probably the only people other than Google employees who actually use Google+.) Once we knew each other better, real names came out, as did locations and other social media accounts. We now follow each other on deviantArt, tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter. We talk constantly every day, and we video chat when we can. We still have our group chat, and we’ve added several smaller, one-on-one chats. We love each other just as much as friends who see each other physically every day. I can’t imagine my life without them.
Our cabin was lucky enough to be randomly placed in a group of similarly-minded people who are close in age. I understand that this doesn’t happen for everybody and that internet friendships don’t always pan out. I’m not saying anybody should go meet up with random old dudes who claim to be teenage girls. I’m just saying that everyone should be a little more open-minded the next time someone says that they met their best friend online.