One of the coolest things about living in the time and technological age that we do is that we can connect with almost anyone from anywhere in the world at any time. Through all of the different social media channels — from Instagram to Facebook to blogging — we have the opportunity to communicate with and even befriend people we may have never met in real life, which is crazy! It's also really amazing, and something that I am personally super grateful for. I have made so many sweet friends through social media over the years, many of which have become the kind of friends that I don't know where I'd be without today. And it honestly blows my mind that I get to now know and do life with these women simply because we followed one another on Instagram or read each other's blogs... or both!
As an introvert who is typically pretty content being on my own, I have found making friends through social media to be such a godsend. Connecting with others post-college is hard in general and made even more challenging by our often ridiculously busy schedules, and being someone who would 100% choose staying in over going out, it could be so easy to hibernate and thus never meet new people. Which makes me all the more grateful for those that have reached out to me, the ones that I've reached out to, and the friendships that have been born because of our small acts of boldness.
While it's something that at one time may have seemed totally weird, it has become more and more normal and accepted to meet new people through online channels... especially Instagram. Apart from my sweet gals that I met through work, I connected with many of my friends back in Nashville via Instagram. I met my hilarious best friend, a friend I knew from 4+ years of blogging, friends from different states who made a road trip through Nashville, a friend who started an amazing non-profit (and whose wedding I was in!), and even some friends from Amsterdam that I got to spend time with in NYC! These are all cherished friendships that I likely would not have if it weren't for social media, and that's pretty freaking cool. And if you've never reached out to someone online but have always wanted to, keep reading...
TIPS FOR MAKING FRIENDS THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA:
Don't be afraid to reach out! I promise, it's really not as weird as you might think or feel it is. It requires some boldness, but send that email or direct message (or even just leave a comment) suggesting the possibility of grabbing coffee/lunch/whatever and explaining your why. Whether it's because you have similar interests or you're needing encouragement or advice, feel free to let that person know why you'd like to meet with them!
Be smart! Meet somewhere public, especially if you don't have any mutual friends IRL. This probably sounds ridiculous, but I say you should treat it like a date... which basically means don't agree to meet in a desolate area or at their house (or any other potential murder-like-scenario) because remember: this is someone you've not met in real life before, so be smart and stay safe.
Please, for the love of all that is good, don't try to meet someone from social media with the hopes of gaining more followers or likes. Because yes that stuff is real and it's shady and I know you're better than that.
Maintain your friendships as best you can! Sometimes, these potential insta-friendships don't work out or don't last and that's okay. But if you walk away from that coffee date knowing that was someone you want to continue a friendship with, let them know, and make the effort to hang out! I am not always the best at this (literally ask any of my friends tagged in the photos in this post) which makes me even more grateful that my friends are so good at keeping in touch, even and especially now that I am far away in California.
Don't take a "no" to heart. This is a hard one to share, especially after so much encouragement about reaching out to people online, but it's necessary I've reached out to plenty of people who have either been too busy, too difficult to communicate with, or who flat out never responded to me. And while that always stings in the moment, I've learned to let it go when it happens. I typically trust that God will open the right doors for new friendships and connections, so I move on when things don't work out. And these experiences have actually propelled me to treat those who reach out to me with kindness, promptness, and respect, and I always try to make a meet-up work as best I can.
Here's the thing: the internet can be a real tough place to hang nowadays with all of its bad news and trolls and dark spaces, but it can also be so beautiful and amazing because you really could make some of the sweetest friends just by reaching out to them. So do it! Send that message and meet for coffee, because you never know just what kind of connection could flourish as a result. I'm cheering you on!