Gator Talk Episode 13 : Online Friendships

Welcome to Gator Talk, a collaborative CalState podcast that brings city and statewide perspectives to SF State news.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Happy hour zoom calls with friends you hadn’t talked to in ages and Instagram tag challenges helped keep us connected.

Guest host Sydney Vargas started to think about online friendships, since this phenomena in maintaining long distance friendships wasn’t new. Since the dawn of the internet people have used forums and social media apps to create friendships.

Take a seat and be prepared to be taken back to 2008 when Tumblr used to rule.

 

 

 

 

TRANSCRIPT:

Intro   

 

Seb: This is Sebastian Mino-Bucheli, I’m your multimedia editor and your host for Gator Talk, a Golden Gate Xpress podcast that brings news to SF State students.

From here to the end of the semester I’m going to go on to publish two episodes a week. We’re going to push on through. 

For more information/coverage, check out goldengatexpress.org OR @GatorTalkPod on all social media platforms.

 

Preview of the show

Seb: Here’s a quick preview of the show.

I’ll be updating the audience with a quick news brief with news that happened this week that matters to SF State students.

City news reporter Sydney Vargas will be joining us for the main story!

News brief

Seb: California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced April 15, that California residents of 16 and older will be eligible to receive the available COVID-19 vaccines, which also now includes the Johnson & Johnson vaccine dose.

But wait wait wait wait…

Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine is back after the federal pause was lifted last Friday. San Francisco Mayor London Breed also announced that Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine will also be resumed for use in the city.

“Over 2/3rds of our residents have now received a vaccine and everyone 16+ is eligible. We’re close to ending this pandemic.” Mayor London Breed said in a tweet.

However, the San Francisco Chronicle ran a piece that a Bay Area man is under UCSF’s care after experiencing blood clots after taking the J&J COVID-19 vaccine dose Sunday. This is after there were 15 cases nationwide in which three women have passed away.

And that was the giant news brief, here’s the main story. 

 

Main Story 

Sydney: Hello everyone! 

Sydney Vargas, here. And today I will get my second dose of the Pfizer vaccine, something I am really looking forward to is being with vaccinated friends and family again. 

At the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Happy hour zoom calls with friends you hadn’t talked to in ages and Instagram tag challenges helped keep us connected. 

As the months drew on, it grew harder and harder to exist, much less engage with friends without technology. 

Which got me thinking, this isn’t new, people have used the internet to create long-distance friendships for ages, granted the whole world may have not been on lockdown at that time, but there still must be insight solely online friends must have about sustaining fulfilling friendships online.

Researchers Travis Cruikshank and Shane Rogers found in their study that while most people reported no impact on their friendships, 27% of people reported a deterioration in their relationships with friends. These people were more likely to also report not increasing their level of communication via technological means. 

 Sooner than later we will be able to see the bottom halves of our pals’ faces without worry. 

It still doesn’t mean that we can’t use technology to nurture relationships and find community. 

In Zoom classes and work this year, my friend Siobhan and Tatiana often brought up the close relationships they’ve fostered online prior to the pandemic. I asked them about it.

So allow me to take you back to the year of year 2008. 

Madie is around 14 years old and sits behind their computer in the muggy Florida air, they are only just getting used to it. Their family moved from upstate New York to Florida which resulted in them being held back a grade – the friends they did have at the new school would often make fun of them. 

 

Madie: I think I was just trying to be a part of something. I didn’t have that constant connection with people. And so I think I was super lonely. I think I was really lonely. And also I just like, I’m a Gemini, so I wanted to like put myself out there and just connect with people on talk. And so I got into reading because of that because of like the Nerdfighter community. And so I was super into Twilight. I was just posting like videos of me talking about Twilight books, I read my life.

 

Sydney: Then a user messaged them. Their name was Cat. I know them today as Siobhan. 

 

Madie: They were like, hey, let’s be friends and they were my age and and I think they messaged me on like, a specific website that was for Nerdfighters like a Nerdfighter social media website. And I think that’s how we became friends. And we were also on YouTube. So I gave them my like, real screen name because I don’t know I trusted them and I don’t remember exactly how it started but I remember being over one of my friend’s houses and like, like talking to them on my friend’s computer. And we were like talking about Twilight like we were all into Twilight in eighth grade. I was the first one of my friends and we just like it was just so easy to come home and like to have friends online like it was already a part of my life. Like after middle school, I’d come home and aim. I’d go on myspace. And, and that was just like, throughout middle school that was normal. 

 

Madie: So I remember like we used to, specifically like, as we got, like, into high school, we would like video chat, like almost every night, and this was before, like, iPhones and anything. So we had like all these different like random websites, we would like to try to like, well, there was Skype, too, there was Skype. And so we would stay in contact that way. But I think for me, I’ve been thinking about it. Like, like, what it meant for me and why it was so easy for me to have internet friends sort of anyway, just because like, it was easy for me to just get online because they were online and there’s no pressure.

 

Sydney: How did Cat’s friendship impact you at the time? 

 

Madie: Cat actually helped me get into theater and get the confidence to join theater. Because I had always wanted to do it. But I like the spotlight. But at the same time I get really nervous. And so Cat  like really inspired me to get into theater. And I don’t think I would have been as heavily involved in theater and known the amazing people I know if I wasn’t encouraged to and inspired to buy like what she was they were always doing. And they Yeah, and that. And now I’m friends with like, so many people from high school just because Cat inspired me like, I wouldn’t have the friends that I have, I think if I didn’t join theater, so I now think about it. It’s all, it’s all cat.

 

Seb: We’re gonna take a quick break…

 

Break

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*Break ends *


Main Story Cont.

Sydney: Tatiana and Naomi also met on Tumblr in 2012 and glady joined to talk about their affinity to online friendships. I asked them if they remember how their friendship began. 

 

Tatiana: We don’t remember exactly like how it happened and stuff. And, I wish I could go back on my blog, because I still have a Tumblr, but my original blog got accidentally deleted, because I’m a dingus. And so it just like it’s evaporated into the ether of the internet. So I don’t have all of our old messages. But I remember like my blog had a specific layout like I was doing the coding and stuff, you know it and like, we yeah, I mean, it just started because one of us followed the other one because we were posting similar things. And I remember I was always itching for like an internet buddy. And so we started going into each other’s asked box boxes a lot, until we just like, became friends.

 

Naomi: I had always heard of people who would like met on the internet and then like still become friends and like been friends I mean this was back from like my face and things like that people who had become friends just solely online and then you know, kind of progressed in their friendships until they finally met up. And so I wasn’t necessarily looking for a friendship or looking for anything, but I was just like, Oh, this person’s like really cool. And I think they’re super awesome. And they are like, really interesting because they live in California. And that’s like, not super far away. But it’s far enough away. that’s new to me, you know?

 

Sydney: All of the sources ended up eventually meeting their internet besties in person, however, none of them said that they felt like it was needed. 

 

Madie:  I mean, it definitely, like changes it in a way like it makes it like, not more meaningful, but it enriches your friendship, because and if anything, like it’s satisfying, I don’t know why I’m getting emotional. Also, I’m about to get my period. That’s probably why. But like, I don’t know, like, so I’m so like, I haven’t met a lot of my internet, friends and personnel that I actually like, I’m totally fine with that. But I do want to eventually meet a lot of them. And I think I have kept in touch with those. I’ve met in person a little bit more, just because you get to make those in person memories. Because as much as we get from this virtual, there’s nothing I think, if anything, what we’ve learned during COVID two is there’s nothing that can replace being in person. Like I’ve had long distance relationships, I actually was dating someone and started dating them when we met each other for the first time. And there was nothing that could replace that in person relationship and like bond you have when you meet someone, but one of my new friends is like I can’t wait till you meet in person and I’m like, okay, but I’m like, totally like, I totally love seeing you here. But you can’t like smoke weed, drink. Like you can’t share the same food. 

There’s something like, I wish I lived right next to Cat because I want to make her food like she is. They have carpal tunnel, and all I want to do is make food for them because it’s hard. But the first time we met, I mean, it was under special circumstances because a year before my dad had died, and a month before her dad had died. And I was just I just was like, Hey, I’m gonna come visit. I think this is like, right after, right before I was like, Hey, I’m gonna come visit in California, can I come see you? Like, I’m already I’m gonna be staying with my friend Anthony. Like, let me come stay with you. And I just plan to stay for like a day. And I stayed longer. I said as long as we possibly could, um, and then like, rush to like, get to the airport, basically. Because I just wanted to spend time with them like it was. We were both in a fog of like our own shit, I think but at the same time, like it was. 

We didn’t do much, but it was so meaningful. 

 

Naomi and Tatiana: I don’t think it hurt. But, you know, I, I think it was definitely, I don’t think it was needed even a little bit. Because like, I feel like if talking I had never met, we still would be doing this, like right now. You know, I think it was just like an added benefit of just like, Oh, hey, like, I have a friend that I can go visit who is far away from me. And now I get to experience their life for a few days, or like be a part of like, their routine there, whatever. And to me, like, personally, like, that’s one of the reasons why I like having friends. Because I get to be a part of somebody else’s life too. And so while I was already a part of thought seize life, it was like, Oh, I was physically there. This is pretty cool. Like, I get to see the same thing. But she’s saying I get to taste the same thing she’s tasting, like, I get to, like, you know, just have the same experience by being in the same place. But I definitely don’t think we needed it. And I don’t think it would have affected us any kind of way if I hadn’t met them yet. Because truth of the matter is, is if I didn’t go in 2018, I probably would have gotten later, 

 

Sydney: These stories really touched me. Such special friendships out of fandoms and blogs that have lasted for years. Madie is moving again but, this time to Arizona to live with Cat. As for Tatiana and Naomi, they are excited for life after COVID when they can plan another trip to see each other. 

 

Tatiana: I think that a lot of the time, that’s the difficult thing with a lot of people and wanting online friendship is that they don’t really know where to start. And they’re like, I have no idea what I’m doing. I just want an online friend. But like, honestly, the the easiest way to start is to just start talking to someone, just like start replying to people’s posts and saying things, and eventually you will become friends or you won’t if it doesn’t work, but like, you can’t really know until you try and something that’s been like, really cool for me is during quarantine ever since COVID started, I started watching Twitch streams, which is wild because I don’t play video games. But I was like, I’m bored. I want to do that. And I started watching like one specific streamer, I came to the platform for one streamer, because I liked her Instagram content. And so I was like, I’m just gonna follow you here and see what happens. And then like there was a whole community kind of built around that streamer has like a Discord server and stuff like that. And people have made friends through that. And like I’m starting to talk to some people through that Discord server and like making more friends. And it’s really, really cool to see. So like, honestly, if you’re looking for a place to start, I think finding like a common interest, or some sort of forum that you talk about, like, there’s Facebook groups, about a million things, there’s like, you can find like discord servers, about a million things. There’s like, Reddit, if that’s your cup of tea, it’s not mine, but it exists and people like it. Threads and stuff like that, like you can make those connections if you start looking for the kinds of people and like the people that you would share common interest with.

 

End 

Sydney: And that was the episode. 


This is Sydney Vargas. I’m a campus news reporter and your guest host for Gator Talk.
New episodes will premiere Friday mornings so stay tuned.

And with that, I’m signing off.