Daily Tribune (Philippines)

A scary place but also a haven — with the right people


When I joined K-pop stans on Twitter, the first friend I made on the internet was C.

C, who lived on the other side of the world, liked superheroe­s, specifical­ly Justice League. Our common ground was Kim Min-seok of EXO.

I didn’t know how C looked like or how her voice sounded like. She sent me a postcard of a beautiful town in her place, with a note penned in violet ink on the other side, plus a cute card for my birthday that made me happy.

She might’ve sent me a package full of chocolates, random photos and food that I couldn’t manage to claim from the post office.

I can’t believe it has been two years since we last spoke to each other, the last message being, “I’ve missed you” and “I hope you’re doing well,” accompanie­d by several cat memes. That was the last I heard of her since I changed my Twitter account. It’s sad, but just like everything else, we just drifted apart over time.

I still feel sad for having wasted a friendship that was so genuine and as precious as the friends I have in real life. It taught me that no amount of distance or presence — or the lack thereof — could prevent real connection­s and relationsh­ips from forming and growing.


And then came Fel.

Thankfully our friendship flourished.

Unlike C, I knew what Fel looked like, sounded like (from all the midnight calls we used to spend hours talking about random stuff), and what she did on a daily basis.

She liked chicken.

She wanted to know what

Jollibee tastes like. She made me feel like we lived just blocks apart rather than oceans and thousands of miles away.

From an online stranger, Fel became a constant part of my life.

No matter how often I changed Twitter accounts, my online friend became a person who would, for instance, laugh at me when I ate dog biscuits accidental­ly, or over an embarrassi­ng thing

I tweeted two years ago.

Fel never forgets.

I was in high school when I first created a

Twitter account. It was immature and chaotic, not to mention a whole lot of cringe that for something

I wanted to erase, remembered everything all too well.

It was a One Direction account that I haven’t deleted.

Now I’m managing a private fan account dedicated to screaming about Tobio Kageyama of the Japanese animation series Haikyuu.

Notwithsta­nding my dark and embarrassi­ng past on Twitter, I also formed real friendship­s that the unlimited possibilit­ies of the internet offered.

I’ve been warned about people I meet on social media. The truth is, while there is now a sense of courtesy and responsibi­lity being observed by netizens, there are still those who bear ill intentions and spread hate and harm online.

Amazing strangers

But there are likewise amazing strangers — and there are a lot of them I’ve seen and sometimes interacted with — the complete opposite of people I was scared of running into.

Yes, the internet can be a scary place, but it can also be a haven with the right people. It can happen in a blink — strangers who would strike a conversati­on with the same group, sharing each other’s hobbies, likes and dislikes, until it gets too deep or mundane at 4 a.m.

Those intimate talks grew into friendship­s that are for keeps.

I knew about their post-high school feels, college jitters and first job interviews. And they stuck with me throughout my all-nighters at school or at work.

I listened to their rants for hours, never mind if it was the middle of the night on my side of the globe. And they also had time for me when I wanted to vent anger.

If we were sad, there was nothing like a good ol’ mafia game or movie night on video-sharing sites that could cheer us up.

It’s always nice to know that there will be people who are willing to listen to the most insane thoughts no matter what time it is. Be it two in the afternoon or five in the morning, there’s someone awake on the timeline screaming (or crying) about something. You are never alone. We might not be there in person, but we were there for each other in spirit.

And somehow, it makes all the difference.

I know it’s a week late, but Happy Internet Friends Day to everyone I’ve met online. Thank you for sharing a piece of your lives with me.

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