Meeting Internet Friends

meeting-internet-friend

So here’s the thing, meeting people online, forming friendships/relationships, is not as weird or uncommon as it used to be.

Speaking as an older person, (ahem), I really can’t imagine doing that nowadays though I’m certainly not against it – in fact, back in the day when I used to read a lot of mommy blogs, I seriously thought I would attend some blog conferences and thought it would be fun to meet some of the people I had been reading online in real life.

I never did it though because ultimately, I didn’t care enough to follow through. I was curious, not serious.

But our boys, who have grown up online and who can’t imagine life without the Internet, are a different breed. It’s now the norm to meet friends online, in chat rooms, in forums, or recognize screen names from games.

I can’t confirm this, but I think that both boys, at one point or another, had online girlfriends though they never met them, to my knowledge.

I can always tell when Blake gets attached to someone online. His mood is happy, uplifting, he jokes around and laughs a lot.

And then I can always tell when something happens online, whether someone has disappointed him, or made him angry, or he has lost a friendship/relationship because he falls into a deep depression. He mopes around and sleeps A LOT. It always concerns me a bit when he sleeps so much – I know that’s his way of trying to get away from whatever is upsetting him. But I suppose we all have our ways of coping with unpleasant things.

Brandon is not like that. He doesn’t internalize as much as Blake does. When someone disappoints him, he just gets angry. I can’t imagine where he gets that trait from.

Brandon has a lot of online friends. In fact, he met one the other day and I found this out when I saw his friend’s post on Facebook.

The guy that Brandon met comments on his Facebook account. And I don’t know, I always assumed the guy was someone that Brandon went to school with. It never dawned on me that he was an online friend. When I saw the post on Facebook of Brandon meeting this friend, I was shocked.

I asked Brandon about the meet up when he and Blake came over for Sunday dinner. He said this friend was traveling back from Texas with his parents when they decided to stop in our hometown and meet Brandon. They met at a restaurant. Brandon said his parents even bought him dinner, which I thought was terribly nice of them to do.

Brandon and this guy have been online friends for about 6 years. After I got over my initial shock, I then freaked out a bit. I mean,  you hear all sorts of horror stories about weird people impersonating kids, or serial killers stalking their next victims and well … you just pray that never happens to your kids. But I guess they can Skype each other now and they can see it’s not an old man in his 60’s sitting around in his underwear.

(But they could always hire a kid, I guess).

Brandon also bought tickets to go to Vegas in October. By himself. He is going to some Final Fantasy conference and he’s meeting up with some online friends there, too. In fact, the latest word is, they are all going in on renting a condo for several days. Bran is supposed to be coming over this next week so we can help him book a flight. And I definitely have more questions about this condo, where it is, how much it costs, etc.

I know what you’re thinking – FREAK OUT MOMMA MOMENT. However, I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, NO WAY ARE YOU GOING TO VEGAS. But on the other hand, he’s 21 and if he’s willing to venture out on his own, well, I can’t stop him. In fact, I’m sort of proud of him for biting the bullet and stepping out of his comfort zone. Nearly all of Kevin’s sisters’ kids have traveled the world, in fact, one of my nieces is in Spain right now living with missionaries for the summer, I think my kid can handle going to Vegas.

I’m trying very hard to be cool about this. I would rather he come to me and tell me these things than hide them from me. At least if he talks to me, I can help him prepare for the trip and give him advice on how to be safe while there.

Blake is talking about going to Japan to meet a friend next year. I have no idea if he’ll ever do it but he’s been thinking about doing this for a few years now. (I wonder if that was why he was interested in taking Japanese class in high school – it all makes sense now!)

Of course, we would help him plan. He already has a passport (which reminds me, we need to renew Brandon’s passport. His expired at five years instead of the ten for me, Kevin and Blake, because Brandon was too young to qualify for a ten-year passport at the time). I’m pretty sure I’ll be way more freaked out with Blake going to Japan.

As in, OUT OF THE COUNTRY, PEOPLE.

But we’ll cross that bridge if/when we get there.

We are also working on setting the boys up for a credit card. All they have now are debit cards and well, we all know how risky debit cards are. Besides, they need to start building credit and now is a good time to start.

I’m betting, if the girlfriend thing ever happens for either of our sons, it will be through the Internet. And in a lot of ways, I think it’s better that way. At least that way, they can focus more on her personality as opposed to the physical side of things.

Like it or not, online relationships are real and they are happening, whether we approve of it or not. We might as well get on board.