This day and age is interesting, because you can meet and become friends with anybody, anywhere around the world.
And that's one major advantage of always being connected by technology. And in addition to friends, you can also run into total strangers. Sometimes, unexpected things will happen between you and a total stranger.
Here were some of those answers.
A Positive Review
Left a detailed comment on a story I wrote and how I made them happy, how I wrote the characters perfectly, etc... It really filled me with joy since I was so convinced nobody was going to read it anyway. I was just writing for myself.
Sid Meyer Shed A Tear
A number of years ago, I had lost my job, and my girlfriend really wanted the latest Civilization game. I wanted to get it for her, but it wasn't responsible to spend the money.
I mentioned something about the situation on a forum where I posted regularly, and one of the guys there happened to have won a copy recently, and didn't care for that kind of game. A few days later, she had a brand new copy of the game.
Help Across The Board
Back in 2002, when I was in school, they had cool Windows XP machines there. At home, we just had a crappy Windows 95 and we didn't really have the money to invest into something as silly as a Windows update.
As a joke with my friends, I wrote exactly that to Steve Ballmer's corporate Microsoft email address that I somehow found online. Of course, slightly exaggerated: I'm a poor boy from Germany, all my friends have Windows computers and can do cool stuff with them, I am stuck with Linux because we can't afford anything else.
I never thought anything would ever come out of that. A few days later, however, I receive an email from someone claiming to be his assistant, saying they've received my email and would like to help me out and asking for my address. I gave it to them, again, expecting nothing, and three weeks later, I had a brand new Windows XP Pro box waiting for me at the post office.
Noticed AND Cared
Very long time ago I was super depressed and was doing the equivalent of sh!t posting in a chat room / forum kinda thing, I think it was on battlenet. Anyways, I was absent for like a couple of weeks because life got busy.
Well this girl PMed me to ask if I was okay. I didn't even know who she was but she recognized I was missing, said she sort of read between the lines about the stuff I wrote, and said she hoped I was okay.
It was just a little thing, but it really meant a lot to me that she noticed me, and cared enough to just check in. I was honestly in a really dark place, and that simple act really lifted my spirits.
Gone Without A Trace
There was a guy me and my friends used to play COD4 with online constantly. He lived in BC, and we lived in the Southeastern US. He and I would live chat just about every night regardless of what we were playing, and I even got to talk to his mom a couple of times. He was such a genuine person, and we talked about everything from depression, to God, to relationships, etc. As I got to know him better, he opened up that he had Lyme's disease and that his father had left him and his mother a few years prior because he couldn't handle the stress or medical bills any longer.
My birthday was coming up and he was adamant on getting me something. Breaking all rules that a parent gives their 15 year old, I gave him my address. A few weeks later, I get a package that included a wireless 360 headset and an Atlanta Falcons keychain, along with a handwritten note thanking me for my friendship. We still talked a lot after that, then one day he just stopped getting online. I checked at least twice a year up until the past couple to see his last logon, but it's still at the date it was when I first noticed.
A long time ago, when I was 15 or so, I was living with my sister because of a bad home situation. She was only 18 and barely making it as it is so we frequently didn't have anything to eat. My mom lived 15 minutes a way and made 250k a year but wouldn't help us. I was talking to a random person on AIM about what was going on in my life and he brought me like 100 worth of groceries. He brought it to the outside of our complex (it was gated and locked) and said things will get better someday and left. Never to be heard from again. Looking back I realize it was stupid to give an internet stranger my home address but I was starving. The sweetest thing was he threw in a candy bar because "everyone deserves a treat once in a while."
Just a few months ago. I'm the one who's been posting (a lot) about missing lilacs living in Florida. Most people simply dismissed it as "they can't grow here, learn to live without them," but one time I posted this a fellow Redditor told me they believed in me that I could grow it myself and prove everyone wrong, so I took their encouragement, bought a plant, and I've been nursing it and taking very good care of it.
I am really glad someone did tell me they knew I could do it.
Jaffa In A Jiffy
Years ago, before Reddit, and we all had to use internet forums, I was just making a casual moan on an expat site about how I really missed Jaffa Cakes.
A kind stranger said they were flying to my city from the UK in two days time and they'd happily bring me a pack or two.
They did and I nearly cried!
I rationed them and made them last a whole month. Talk about will power!
Also, not me directly but the animal charity I volunteer for needed a flight buddy to take a cat to Germany. An internet stranger saw the plight and happily volunteered to take the cat in the cabin with him on his already booked flight to Germany!
The Friends You Made Along The Way
Last August, I loaded some camping gear onto the back of my bicycle and left my home with the vague goal of riding to Seattle and down the Pacific coast.
A month later, I was crossing into southwestern Montana and I was faced with a bit of a predicament. It was going to snow, and even many of the nights where snow wasn't expected, it would be too cold for be to camp. Normally that wouldn't be much of a problem, I'd just put myself up in a cheap motel for the night, but this cold weather was supposed to last for weeks, so that would get expensive.
I did a similar trip –though on a much smaller scale– the previous year, and ahead of that trip, I created an account on WarmShowers.org, a website like couch surfing that's specifically for long distance cyclists. It helps those of us on the road find locals who are willing to put us up in their homes for a night. But despite creating the account, I hadn't used it on that last trip. But when I was passing through Yellowstone National Park, I met some other cross-country cyclists who had nothing but good things to say about it.
So when I found myself facing snow and sub-freezing temperatures in Montana, I decided to revisit Warm Showers. Now, I wouldn't say they're total strangers –they have their real names as their account names, they write little biographies about their travels and hope they host, and previous guests (or in my case, hosts) can leave reviews– but even so, I'd obviously never met them before. Of the 14 nights I spent in Montana, seven of them were in the homes of five wonderful people. My very first host, a PhD student in the large town of Bozeman, left her front door unlocked for me while she was out all day. Bring my very first host, I had no reviews on my account from previous hosts, so I was blown away by how trusting she was not only to host me for the night but to let me in while she was out. Another allowed what was planned to just be an overnight stay to turn into a rest day with an extra night when we woke up to the sight of snow on the roads my first morning there.
Biking across the country has been an absolutely incredible experience. From hiking in early Autumn in the Grand Tetons, to watching an orca swimming 500 feet below me as I cycled the cliffs of the Oregon coast, I have constantly been blown away by the natural beauty of our world. But more importantly than that, I've learned that the world we share if an overwhelmingly kind one, despite what many people may say. From those who welcomed me into their home, providing me a hot shower, a warm bed, and their wonderful company over dinner, to the kind drivers who saw me stopped on the desolate Wyoming roads and offered me an extra bottle of water, every single person I've met along the way had wanted to be a positive part of my story. And to me, that was fast more beautiful than the mountains of Montana or forests of the Olympic peninsula.
i talked about my battle with my anxiety and my eating disorder on here a while back and a very, very kind older lady gave me a silver and wrote me the most heartfelt message I've ever read. she let me know that i'm not alone in this battle and she's always there for me if i need help or just someone to talk to. she let me know that she herself battled the same shit and just gave me a ton of hope knowing i'll get better and get out of my rough patch.
i always think about her kind words when i find myself in a bad place again and it just reminds me to keep fighting because even if i feel like no one in my personal life cares, i know that a stranger online does and sometimes that's enough to keep me going. she really helped my healing process and i hope i can find her user again so i can thank her for how much her kind words helped me.