Nowadays, we find dates via the internet, and it's not so strange to think about picking a time and place to meet up with a complete stranger.
However, when the internet was first becoming a thing 10-15 years ago, things were very very different, and sometimes, they were scary.
Most of the time, people you met on the internet came from chat rooms, or forums, or something with some sort of an unknown factor involved. Social media has pretty much solved the anonymity factor, but most of our parents would not let us go near strangers on the internet for fear of what may happen. These stories reflect that time.
Here were some of those tales.
Dreams Came TrueGiphy
First person I met from the internet, we started a private game server together. Fun times, fell out of touch.
Second person I met from the internet hooked me up with a job in IT, got me started in the industry, and has been my career mentor ever since. He played on our private server.
Our Millennial Lives Intersected
I met one of my best friends in an AOL chatroom 18 years ago. I chatted with her nightly for about a year, lost contact for 2, then bumped into her IRL and have been friends ever since. We were also recently roomates for a year and a half. She is basically a sister to me.
Sad Endings Don't Make The Stories Less Worthwhile
We had been planning to meet after known each other for years on line, just a couple of crazy old guys who loved cars, beer, and weird sh*t. I had a business trip that was gonna take me out near to where he lived (he lived in Northern NH, and I had a trip to Montreal), but my business trip got delayed, and delayed again. And between those cancellations, his cancer, which he had defeated once, came back with a f*cking vengeance.
When I contacted him about my updated schedule to come out in, what was then, 6 weeks from the call, he said his docs said he had weeks to live. I told him I didn't care what it meant, I was gonna stick with the plan. So I reserved a rental car on the hope he'd still be kicking. I stayed in touch regularly, he moved to a hospice and I let him know that I had cared for my dying grandmother through months of hospice, 24/6, as she died of cancer, so I'd been there and seen it. I was not scared of hospice and would be honored to see him regardless of where he was.
When the weekend came, my flight got delayed, there was a forecast of frozen mix between Montreal and the border, but I drove it anyway. I landed in Montreal, paid out of pocket for my rental car, dropped my bags at the hotel downtown, and drove to NH. I got to the hospice around 9:00 PM and talked to him and his wife for hours. I brought his some timbits at his request, it was the only thing he asked for. Eventually, around 2:30 AM I realized that I needed to head back, because I had to be at work, teaching a class, at 9 AM, back in Canada, so I slowly say my goodbyes, take a picture with them, and drive back. I called my son to keep me awake, and when I got to the border back to Canada I told the guards that I had some carrots in my bag that had come from the US via plane, to Canada, to NH, and now back to Canada, and that was the only thing I had to declare. My son stayed with me on the phone until I got back to my hotel, where I took a power nap, and then taught my class that day.
Guard duck (my friends online nickname) passed on last Thanksgiving (which was just a couple of weeks after I visited). But he held on and fought and faced it through it all. He never flinched or looked away, he was thankful for the extra time he had with his wife and getting to see friends. He and his wife were among the greatest people I have ever met.
Speaking of, I got a Christmas card from her a couple of days ago, I'm in the process of putting together a care package for her. She's doing as well as could be.
I guess, this is just to say, imaginary internet friends are sometimes the best friends you'll ever make. And I regret nothing.
RIP Guard Duck.
Far Away But Closer Than Ever
Back in 2008, my 3 Call of Duty buddies from a few states away and I would play every day after school, after randomly adding each other. They all 3 knew each other IRL. Friend #1's dad passed away suddenly and I sent him and his mom a sympathy card. They were both really moved by the gesture and I was invited there over the summer. As of today, #1 and I have met up 3 times, and #2 and #3 4 times. We continue to game and text at least once or twice a week, now that we've all grown up. I consider them closer friends than a lot of the people I'm friends with here at home.
A New CollaboratorGiphy
Probably not what you are looking for but this was kind of wild.
I posted in a thread looking for vocalists in my area to sing on some songs I've been working on. Someone responded to look up someone via Instagram. I looked her up and she's good. Really good. Turns out she's been recording at a studio just down the street from my house.
I let a little while pass without messaging her because I wasn't quite ready to send anything out yet. Cut to my band's show last weekend at this dive bar on the other side of town. Get off the stage and she's in the crowd actually approached us and complemented us. Took me a minute before I made the connection. Sent her the songs yesterday and she liked them.
Does Craig's List count? Because I got a lot of roommates off Craig's List over the years. Became very good friends with a few of them. One of them had this ex-boyfriend she wouldn't stop complaining about, all day everyday. Her stories about him were so outlandish & she was so embittered, it made me insanely curious about what his side of the story was, given that I lived with her & knew that she could be...a handful.
I wound up meeting him randomly a few years later (not online) & paid extra-close attention because I knew who he was from all of her endless complaining. I was like, "Huh...He's really cute, and he seems smart. And funny. Not at all like a human garbage monster." And then we fell in love, had a baby, blah blah blah. I sometimes wonder if it would have happened if I'd never met this random bitter ex-girlfriend after posting a roommate ad on Craig's List. I probably wouldn't have paid nearly as much attention to him if I hadn't been hearing terrible stories about him for literally years. (FWIW, we are still together & I really must attribute her stories to the fact that everyone is a less-than-ideal partner when they're like 17 years old.)
The Wonderful Partner From Oz
I kinda have two examples here.
Met a guy online through a pen pal website (I love writing letters). I live in Australia and he lived in California. We decided to try a long distance relationship and after 6 months he came to stay with me for 3 weeks. He never left and we've been together nearly 9 years, married for 2.
During the wedding planning process I was an avid gamer. I met someone to play games with that was going to teach me to play better since I wasn't very good. Got talking and found out that the guy and his wife were wedding photographers and we had just had ours cancel because he double booked himself. They flew down and did our wedding photography for us!
All in all, had pretty good experiences I would say!
Little Groups, Big Families
I joined a couple small gaming forums in 2002. I befriended lots of people on each, and found myself wanting to meet everyone. Some people thought the idea creepy, but it was purely out of friendship on my side.
So in 2008 I saved up about $1500 and went on a 3 week, 8,000 mile road trip to meet anyone who was interested in having me visit them. I met over 20 people on that trip, every visit was awesome in its own way. (It's a lot cheaper than you might think it is if you're willing to sleep in your car or if people you visit let you stay the night).
One of the women I met on that trip married me 6 years later. Been together ever since.
I've also had one friend from that group live with me for a couple years, before the road trip actually, and I've met several others under other circumstances.
Meet people from the internet. It's great, trust me. I can literally say it changed my life, and for the better.
This Is Why The Show 'Catfish' Exists
I fell for a girl once. We met in a chat room and talked just about every day for 2 years. Long distance with her in the US and me in Australia. One day she basically just disappeared without word and feeling impulsive I thought I'd fly over to visit her. Would be just like a movie, making a grand romantic gesture and everything working out perfect. So I flew all the way to a small town called Ooltewah, TN. Booked the closest hotel to her house which was an almost 10 mile walk to her house. So I walked all the way and knocked on the door, hear the footsteps rushing to the door, my heart racing. Open the door and it's a 13 year old African-American boy. Knocked on every door in that street hoping I'd just made a mistake but no dice. One of the lowest points of my life walking back to the hotel and spending the rest of the week alone on the opposite side of the world.
WoW, I Love This StoryGiphy
This pertains to two different friends.
We played World of Warcraft for something like 7 years. We had always joked and mentioned about actually hanging out but we were both middle schoolers when we started playing WoW. Fast forward to 2016 both of us are grown up with jobs and still in constant contact through video games and social media we finally went forward with a plan for me to fly from Minnesota where I live out to New York where he lived. Spent a week out there and had some of the most fun of my life. I returned in 2017 for a two-week stay. Planning on going back again this spring. He's even tried to get me to move out there with him.
The second friend was the guy that introduced me to my first friend. I never chalked him up as the type that would open his door to strangers from the internet. He was our guild leader in WoW and was quite a bit older than all of us like 10 years so for most of the time knowing him it wasn't really something I considered until 2018 where I'm in my mid-20s and hanging out with people in their 30s isn't weird at all. I rented a car and drove down and met up with him after nearly 10 years of gaming together and spent an enjoyable week hanging out and playing video games together.
I strongly suggest if you trust your internet/gaming friends enough to go visit them. It's something I haven't for a second regretted and has become a yearly tradition for me.