Not Everyone on the Internet is a Pedophile
The talks we had during lunch time always seemed to go the same way whenever I mentioned another friend I had met online. I don't know if it was because we lived in a small rural area or that they were just closed minded people, but my four friends sitting around me at our usual corner table would throw outrageous accusations in my face about what I really did on the computer. I'd offhandedly say that I had talked to Anya last night about one of my favorite TV shows. Right away they'd come back and say, "You mean you talked with some forty year old man from the internet?" I would viciously deny that these friends were not older men, nor that I had done anything suspicious with them. Still, there wasn't a way I could efficiently get it into their heads that the people I knew online had become better friends than they had been. Eventually, I gave up on trying to make them understand. They could never accept that my online friends meant more to me than they ever would.
It was during eighth grade when I discovered anime. Soon after, I ran across a personal gold mine called fan fiction. Soon I was reading hours worth of these stories. They consumed most of my free time, which was quite a lot since I was only thirteen. I eventually got the crazy idea that I would try my hand at writing. Why not? I had plenty of fresh ideas and favorite anime to the extent that I knew the characters well enough to try and put them into situations that would keep them loyal to the original stories. It was exhilarating once I put my fingers to the keyboard and let the word flow.
Once I had finished my first story I displayed it, with confidence, to my friends at school. To my dismay they seemed uninterested. I watched them read it, a bored expression set on their faces. They told me it was good, that they had liked it. Had they really, though? I was a little crushed that they didn't share the same love that I did for these characters that I was writing about. In that instant, I became aware of something. I didn't want to write just for myself. I wanted to share these stories, like all the others I had read online. I decided that I'd put this story on , the most popular site for posting stories. It was a nerve-racking wait, staring at my email, hoping that there would be some notification. When a few people left encouraging comments, I felt giddy and inspired. I was nowhere near good at writing, but people actually liked it. This surprising turn of events lead me to write more and more.
Over the next year I started to accumulate a fan base as more and more people started to subscribe to my writing. For a while, I basked in this new feeling. I don't exactly know what it was, but it felt amazing to be recognized and liked by strangers. Finally, I decided to respond to the people leaving comments on my work, since before I had been a bit afraid to say anything back to them. It was a good thing I did too. I ended up meeting a girl my age who was into quite a few of the same things as me. We both remained basically unfamiliar with each other except for sharing the love of different music and books. I eventually decided to ask if I could add her on Facebook. I found out that her name was Anastasia, or Anya for short, and that she played some of the games that I did.
During 2009 Facebook games were entertaining to me. Farm Town seemed to be one of the best things I had ever played and better yet Anya also played! She forced me to send her a pig every day in order for me to get any gifts in return. This kind of friendship went on for a while. We'd occasionally check up on each other, asking what we had done that day or watched recently. We were just online friends though and that didn't mean very much at the time. She lived in New York while I lived in Wisconsin, so we wouldn't be able to meet in person anytime soon. This was a disappointing fact, but what could we do? We were only fourteen and I had just recently become addicted to the internet. This whole online friends business was new to me. It gave me a sense of responsibility though, which was unusually relaxing.
While Anya stayed the first person I met online through fiction, she wasn't the only one. There were a number of other girls here and there that I took more interest in than others. As I became closer to some of these friends, we would share basically everything we could about our lives. I started to open up, oddly enough. I felt comfortable with thousands of miles between me and these new found friends. I could tell them literally anything, even lies if I wanted. They didn't know my past and there was no one to tell them but me. I wasn't even shy with them like I would have been had I meet them in person. Writing, reading, and these friends took up most of my summer and soon enough into high school as well.
Throughout my sophomore and to the end of my junior year, I was a writing machine. The ideas wouldn't stop flooding my mind. I still talked to my online friends now and then, but I became more focused on interacting with school friends because they were the ones I could talk to throughout the day when I started to get lonely and bored. Then I realized even after spending so much time together, we still didn't have that much in common. I didn't want to be that kid who sat alone in the corner doing homework, so I temporarily pushed aside my dislike for my current friends and went along with what they were doing. I still tried to shove my writing on them once in a while, and even dedicated certain stories to them, but overall it wasn't successful. Try as I might, I didn't have anything in common with these people and would find myself forcing a laugh here and there when they said something funny. It ended up that way though, me being unable to find any common ground with them. I was a little dejected, knowing that I would never be able to be truly content with those people.
I seemed to come to my senses as a senior. My younger sister, Holly, had started playing an online game and I quickly took an interest in it. She let me talk to one of the friends she had made who helped me learn the game. This game opened me up to all kinds of other people. It didn't force me to get to know anyone, I chose to. The more I played, the more friends I made here and there. As it turned out, Anya was a pretty big gamer and had played LoL before. This was perfect. With Skype as our tool for communication, my friends and I used whatever spare time we had to play. It was shocking, the way I became so open to people I knew almost nothing about. At school, my friends there would give me a blank stare whenever I mentioned I had played LoL with Anya, Nathan, and Alex. I had talked about these people before, but I don't think they bothered to remember who they were. Over and over I asked them to play. They never did though. Eventually I found that that was just fine. I had plenty of new friends to spend time with now, ones who liked me for who I was and shared some of the same interests.
Gradually, we became comfortable enough to tell each other things about ourselves. Summer rushed up on us and finally we were free of high school. We spent long nights having eight hour conversations, on and off playing League of Legends. It was blissful, this newly discovered way of living. I didn't do much else other than stay in my room, door shut, and headset on. I didn't feel the need to leave and hang out with those friends I'd known for years. There was nothing for us to talk about when we got together, and it was ultimately a waste of time. So I stayed home and immersed myself in learning everything I could about my new online friends. They made me feel needed. These were the people I wanted to keep close for a long time.
It might be wrong to try to forget the people I grew up with, but I don't see the point in keeping in touch if they don't interest me anymore. People are fluid beings. We are always discovering new likes and dislikes. I may even end up falling away from those closest to me right now, but whatever happens, happens. I can only try my best to keep them as close as possible for as long as I can. I don't want to go back to the way it was. Right now, even though things may not be perfect, I'm genuinely happy for once with what I have. I couldn't ask for anything better.