Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
When you come home and lay on your bed, the first thing you do is check your phone and all social media applications to see if anyone has commented on your post or replied to your comment. You check your group chats and reply to strangers on the internet who are in message rooms bonding over your common interests. It is easy to forget that you have never met most of these people in person.
With Gen Z being the digital generation, students spend an abundance of their time on the internet. Many students are forming online relationships with strangers hundreds or even thousands of miles away that are exclusively virtual.
Forming relationships with people met online whether through mutual friends or over a common interest has become commonplace.
Sophomore Jojo Liebreich met multiple mutual friends through Snapchat and Houseparty who live locally but formed strong friendships over quarantine.
“This was my first year at WJ as I transferred from a private school and I made most of my friends through mutual friends. Over quarantine, we would FaceTime and Houseparty until we could meet in person,” Liebreich said.
Many students also met new people through gaming servers such as Discord and gaming lobbies where they would talk to other people playing the same game.
“I met [my online friends] through the Call of Duty lobby and they are my friends on Xbox so I just play with them. We talk about everything like family, life, video games and during quarantine, we would play hours a day and you get mad close with each other. It’s different because we are always doing something together and playing together and they play with my friends from real life so we all become a group,” senior Zane Agarwal said.
Students feel as if talking to strangers on the internet is easier than talking to people in real life as there’s a different type of sincerity with them.
“I met some people online in a comment section on posts where we discussed weird things we had in common. They are strangers and there’s a weird openness because you don’t know them and can say anything to them,” senior Shalawn Pasard said.
Other students also meet people online and bond through a common interest such as music and specific artists that they love.
“I met [my online friends] through a common interest, Taylor Swift. Not just Taylor but different types of music. We are very similar because we have that common interest but outside of that, our worlds are very different and depending on where they are from. But everyone comes together because we have the same core values which is fun to learn about other people and we have to go back to that interest. I don’t consider them my online friends anymore because they are honestly some of my closest friends so that is really cool that in the future we said we met through social media,” senior Olivia Pletter said.