Ask your Grandparents, or even some of your Parents what their views are about meeting people online, and you'll probably be greeted with a response along the lines of 'never!', 'don't be silly, it's dangerous.', or 'everyone on the internet is clearly out to get you.'.
Now, while I by no means want to express that meeting people over the internet is completely, utterly and 100% safe, (because it sometimes isn't, and I pray that we all still have our wits about us when it comes to internet safety) what I think is safe to say, is that we've come a long way in terms of being social online.
With the rise of social networking sites that enable you to meet new people in your local area, dating apps such as Tinder, or quite simply, starting up your own blog, getting talking to fresh new faces online has never been quicker, or easier... or normal.
About 80% of the people in my life at the minute, I met online. Is that weird? For me, no. Not at all. After my A Levels a lot of my friends from home went off to uni, and I went to work, eventually moving into a new city, into a flat with someone who, yeah, you guessed it, I met online. SpareRoom was an absolute life saver when trying to find someone to share the rent with! I didn't know anyone here, and if it wasn't for that, I wouldn't have been able to move out. And I'd say it's worked out pretty well, me and N get on great, and she's almost become a big sister figure to me, and I love it and wouldn't have it any other way now!
Without the internet, I'd have probably gone a little insane on my own here!
Just thinking about this post just now has got me thinking about something else. I have learned A LOT from people I've met online in the last year or so. Some are just simple, and practical things, but there are other, bigger life lessons. I was about to write them all down, but I think there's going to be wayyyy too much to fit into this post... you know how much I like to ramble on a bit about life stuff. (Okay, a lot. Sorry!)
Most of the people I talk to daily at the moment are people I've met through this thing here. Yes, this. My blog!
Some were directly through Twitter chats, blog comments, out of the blue DM's asking if I'd go to a fashion show with them the day after said out of the blue DM (yes Becca, I'm looking at you..), some through being super cheeky and inviting myself to a blogger trip that never happened, and others indirectly with blogging being a conversation starter.
Okay so yes, there are a few people that I've met, I probably wish I could un-meet, but 99% of you are just lovely, and fabulous, and I feel so lucky and honoured sometimes to be talking to some of you lot!
Tell 16 year old me this, and she'd have politely told you to go away and stop being ridiculous. But, again, even in 5 years I feel that the online world has changed completely.
Although, the first time I went to a blog event (read alllll about it here!), it was the Friday afternoon before and the usual conversation in the office of 'what's everyone doing this weekend?' came around... trying to explain to fellow colleagues that I was taking the train to London, to meet up with a bunch of girls I've never met before, to go to a bar in soho that I'd never heard of, to spend the day doing I didn't quite know what.. was a little tricky. Not gonna lie. I guess some things you just don't get unless you're part of it!
It's one of those things that the more you do it though, the easier it gets. Yes, you're always going to be nervous before you meet someone in person for the first time, no matter who they are. Like I touched on in my last post, you can sometimes be a different person behind a screen.
But, most of the time, people are real, and the online world has never been a greater tool to expand your social and professional networks. If, you use it wisely, of course.