Making lifelong friends on Twitch at 13-years-old
By Sonam Kaloti, Arts Editor
The lack of eye contact allows people to be able to be more emotionally vulnerable than if they were looking right at you.
Since my lonely teenage angst-filled 13-year-old days, I’ve found myself making friends on the internet. I found that it helped a lot with my social anxiety to be able to text strangers on the internet who wouldn’t negatively judge or ostracize me like people in real life would (because let’s face it—children and teenagers can be brutal). Instead of being criticized for my interests, I found solace in a friend group that shared all of my passions. It’s a great escape from the “real” world.
THE UPSIDES AND DOWNSIDES
I made most of my friends on Twitch through The Creatures, ImmortalHD, and GoldenBlackHawk’s stream chat. Then, I continued to meet more and more pals in Skype groups initially created with people from Twitch. I found people who not only shared my hobbies and interests but people who genuinely cared about me. Better yet, there are no time limits on the internet—your friends don’t have to “go home” at a certain time; you can call all night if you want to. These talks are almost always more insightful and create deeper bonds than you normally would make in a physical conversation for many reasons.
For one, the lack of eye contact allows people to be able to be more emotionally vulnerable than if they were looking right at you. Even in real life, having an intense conversation can be easier if you sit side-by-side as opposed to in front of each other (try it!). Secondly, if your online friends don’t know people that you regularly see physically, then the entire fear of being outed for your secrets is bypassed. There are no rumours, no gossip, and no funny stares from the entire school. You end up learning about the entirely new level of trusting someone.
Of course, there are some downsides to making friends and having relationships online. The most obvious one is that you can’t go outside together to a park, bar, beach… or anywhere. Well, you could always go on camera and both have travelled to that same type of area, but it’s not the same. This goes with not being able to do certain activities together like sports, jamming, or playing board games—but there are a plethora of things to do online together so these losses aren’t so bad. The other downside is mostly related to romantic relationships: not being able to kiss or touch. I don’t find this to be too awful or impossible to deal with, but I know many people would disagree.
HOW TO AVOID TROUBLE
Safety is often a major concern for people who want to make friends online but are scared. I do believe that the internet is potentially a dangerous place—however, that is just like the physical world. Treat people online as you would people you meet face to face. Start by researching the person, and if no results come up this may be a problem. Do go on camera with them so you know that they are the person that they say they are. Don’t just believe pictures. Don’t give too much personal information about yourself until you are 100 percent sure that they are trustworthy and who they say they are. Believing your feelings for this might seem like the right call, but it is better to research them, meet other people that they are friends with, and give your relationship a lot of time before giving away vulnerable information. It’s hard knowing someone’s true intentions in both the physical world and the internet, so use your gut instincts when you feel like something isn’t quite right. Also, don’t get too dependent on them. Just like with any other relationship, you need to have a balanced bubble of people you regularly interact with both in real life and online.
Now, I dated someone online when I was 14 on and off until I was 16. We interacted in the same friend group, and everything seemed right at the time. However, when I was around 17, one of our mutual friends found out that this guy lied about his age and was two years younger than he made himself out to be. Luckily, we were all still friends (and still are) so if anything, this was hilarious, and we made a lot of jokes about him being a baby. I’m sure I would’ve been much more upset if I was still 14, considering I would’ve been dating a literal 12-year-old, but his reason for having lied about his age to fit in with the rest of us (who were all older than him by at least two years) made sense. In fact, to this day, all of us are still very close friends.
Just a few weeks ago my best friend finally made her first online friend and they had developed a slightly romantic relationship. However, when she told him how she felt, he finally came clean that he was actually four years younger than her, as opposed to being the same age that he had said before. This case was worse than mine since in this case, this guy is a minor. Luckily, my friend found out before they had started a romantic relationship. A lot of people are not as lucky and lies like these—or worse—can be fed to them endlessly. Hence, research the people you are talking to, and for the love of everything, ask to see their ID.
I’ve met a lot of people from the internet in real life now, and while it may seem like it would be awkward, it never has been. We continue physically without missing a beat, and it has always been extremely fun.
I’ve made a majority of my best friends and most fulfilling relationships over the internet. In the COVID age, it’s far too easy to feel isolated, so I would highly suggest going online and finding some groups who share your hobbies and passions. Making friends now is easier than ever, and they might just go on to become your missing half.