Finding life-long friends online

Justyce Mirjanovic

Not so long ago online relationships were seen as an act of desperation and loneliness. With the rise of social networking and online gaming, it has become normal for people to establish real relationships.

Social media has become a way to keep up with friends and potentially meet new friends that may go to the same school as you.

Finance major Kristi Breckinridge met her boyfriend on Myspace when they were in high school and have been together for seven years now. They talked for about a month online before they decided to meet up and discovered they went to the same high school but had never met each other.

“I never tell anyone because I think they’re going to think it’s weird,” Breckinridge said.

Maurice White, a junior criminal justice major, said he has made friends from all around the U.S. through Instagram because people “like” his photos. He has never met these people, but they keep up with each other because they have the same interests.

When meeting people online it is hard to know if the person is real, which is shown in the new TV show Catfish, where they exposed people for creating fake accounts. A person can waste a lot of time investing in someone who is not real.

“People need to have more street smarts and awareness when it comes to that,” White said.

When Breckinridge was younger, she and a friend added a person on Myspace they used to talk to all the time, but never gave out personal information because they had never met.

“You never know who you can be talking to,” Breckinridge said.

When meeting someone from the Internet in person it would be best to do it in a public place where there is a lot of people to be safe.

Zachary McCann, a senior history major, has visited a well-known/free dating website and has met a few women through the website. They did not become his life-long friends, but it is yet another example of how common meeting people online is.

When McCann visited the dating website he said it was obvious some of the accounts were fake.

“I’m sure some people want to believe it’s true,” McCann said.

The online gaming community has gotten so big over the last few years, that it is hard to not make friends online. In Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMO), players are encouraged to make guilds, which is a group of friends that tackle in game challenges together.

Sergey Holin, a junior criminal justice major, has met a few friends through the very popular online game World of Warcraft (WoW). He has been playing WoW for eight years and said people who play it tend to be very passionate about the game.

“Friendly people that you meet in game from time to time, tend to think alike and friendship can be built based on common interest and passion that we all share,” Holin said.

Holin has met three people that he initially connected with through WoW, but believes it is hard to find life-long friends online because it lacks face-to-face interaction.

“When we meet a person face-to-face, we judge and assess their value for future relationships with them,” Holin said. “Online that component is absent, so when we meet that person in reality, more often than not we find out that we have little in common.”

Meeting people online can also be scary because sometimes it is not always who the person thinks it is. Anyone can create a fake profile so unless someone is 100 percent positive about the person they are talking to, it would be wise to not give out any personal information.

Holin said meeting people on the internet can be dangerous because people can create fake personas to meet their victims.

“As a major in criminal justice I am more aware of the dangers that loom in the ocean of virtual reality than others,” Holin said. “[The] online world can be just as dangerous as the real one.”

Online relationships are becoming a trend because of the social media and technology that this generation has.

“Whether it’s a good trend or not remains to be seen, only time will tell,” Holin said.