One of the most important lessons I have learnt since becoming a mum is the need for mum friends. You need someone to talk about the sleepless nights to, the days where the kids are feral or admit that you’re terrified they’ll choke if they eat an apple.
Some people, like me, struggle to go to baby groups and make friends there. For us the natural source for these friendships is the internet. Whether it is forums, baby groups on facebook or instagram, there is a way to make what you consider to be real friendships with people you’ve never met away from your screen.
But do you really know these people?
In the last 12 months I have forging online friendships. One of the amazing things about blogging is finding likeminded people at a similar stage in life to you. We started to get to know each other within a facebook group at first, with the intention of helping one another to promote our content. We shared tips and ideas, bounced ideas around and supported through the highs and a few lows.
We extended it out to a Whatsapp group, so that we can be there for each other immediately if needed. What we shared got more and more personal, and our support has extended from blog to real life.
Last week I had the opportunity to attend a conference for bloggers in Manchester. Not all of the girls I am friends with could make it, but a good proportion were. I was desperate to go, and so I found a way to make it work. At the back of my mind was that thought – will the people I meet be the same way they appear over the internet?
The first girl I met was Sarah from Run Jump Scrap. We met in the station in Manchester and headed for lunch and to our hotel, where we were going to be sharing a room for the night. There had been plenty jokes about being catfished and that I was actually going to be meeting a 50 year old balding man, but the reality couldn’t have been more different. Sarah is EXACTLY how she appears online. If you want a clue – go and watch her insta stories!
That night we met a few others, not from directly within our small group but from the wider parent blogger family. It was great putting faces to names and pretty much everyone was how I expected them to be. Some were a little shy but it was nothing that a few drinks couldn’t take care of!
The day of the conference brought the rest of the bloggers, and I wasn’t disappointed with who I met. Laura from Five Little Doves, Lucy from Real Mum Reviews, Sophie from Mama Mei, Hayley from Devon Mama and Nicola from Mummy To Dex were exactly how I expected. Our conversation flowed easily, picking up from where we left off in the latest texts.
Obviously, I’m not advocating going out and meeting people off the internet willy nilly. That would be crazy and potentially dangerous. But when done in the right way there is potential for an online friendship to spill out on to the real world.
Ultimately, our friendships have not changed simply because we spent one day together. The people I met in Manchester are the same people I was speaking to online. Not everything we put out there online is fake. Sure, we tend to promote our best selves, but it’s impossible to keep up a front the whole time and so most people simply won’t do it.
With bloggers what you see is what you get.
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