YouTube: https://youtube.com/watch?v=4kRq0qJG7OU
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Duration:06:15
Uploaded:2013-11-24
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This video is about you, and everyone else who makes me feel welcome in this world, near and far.

Thank you!

Check out Taylor's video where he makes the beaver teeth earrings: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RId5Ho5TviY

The Brain Scoop: http://www.youtube.com/thebrainscoop
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ehmee
Tumblr: http://ehmeegee.tumblr.com
So today I wanted to talk about a subject which I feel is really pretty near and dear to me, and I'm sure it's probably close to you; and that is the topic of internet friends or as I like to call them, friends.

The other day after work I was staying late and finishing writing a letter and a colleague poked her head into my office and she's like "Who are you writing a letter to?"
And I said "I'm writing a thank you letter to my friend in California for making me these earrings" and I don't know if you could tell, but they're made out of beaver teeth and I was super excited to get them and I watched a video of him making them which is on his channel and I just thought it was a really nice thing for him to do, so I was writing a letter to say thanks.

"Oh so did you guys like meet in college?"
I should have probably said something like "We know each other through friends" or "yeah we did meet in college" or just make up some lie or something. But I didn't; instead I said "He wrote me a letter a couple months ago because he just wanted to write and say that he liked the show." And I shouldn't have done that.

"Oh so he's like a fan"
"Yeah I guess but, I mean, we're still friends and we write letters and I watch his videos and it's just not that big of a deal, we just are friends"
"But you guys have like never met?"

At this point I just want to smash my face into a wall. Any time somebody asks me something like this and they ask like "so how did you guys meet?" my stomach clenches and my hands get all clammy and I like just want to retreat into the back of nowhere - and just - because I know their reaction is going to be judgmental.

This is not the first time that I've ever had an internet friend; I grew up on the internet. Ever since my family got dial-up when I was eleven, I have been an avid participant in a variety of forums and chat rooms. I had some really formative experiences in a Sailor Moon chat room between the ages of eleven and fourteen. I've been on the internet for thirteen years. It ain't my first rodeo. And I mean it wasn't just chat rooms; like I had a million LiveJournal accounts at one point, I really was into Dragon Ball Z so I was on a Dragon Ball Z forum, I've had a Neopets account for twelve years.

I really think that if I hadn't joined some of these internet communities at such a young age I would have had a much more difficult transitioning into adulthood because it was really hard. Middle school is really hard and I had a difficult time making friends. I had a difficult time getting along with other people so being able to go online at night and feel as though there was someone to talk to, someone to laugh with and about and just kind of get a different perspective on things; I feel like those were really important things for me at that age. I'm not saying that everybody needs to do that, and really you should probably be watching your children if they're eleven and in a bunch of chat rooms, but there are still good online communities for kids.

Plus, a lot of these internet communities are awesome for other reasons than just seeking friendships. Like, when my cat was diagnosed with diabetes there was a forum for that. And I would challenge you to find another group of people who were as enthusiastic and willing to give two craps about my cat's blood sugar at 4 in the morning than the people on this forum. They were so helpful during a time when like - I didn't have anyone to talk to about my cat's diabetes.

The majority of my masters program at John's Hopkins is online, so if I have a question about the syllabus or a due date, proof-read an essay for me, or look at my cover letter, or whatever there's a group that I can go to. So there are people in our program from all over the United States and all over the globe who can offer really interesting perspectives about museum studies. And we all share the same interests and the same goal: that we all want to be a part of the world of museums studies. We're all really passionate about that. I would consider them my friends even though, no we've technically never met in person. They're my classmates and you use one another like you do when you're in a class, when you need help, when you need to talk with peers. Just as you would if you were taking a class on-site. And if I need an image of a millipede at the last minute for a Brain Scoop episode, I know I can go to twitter and get in contact with some of my friends who are entomologists and studying millipedes and I know that they're there.

Then you have tumblr and everyone who's followed my blog from the very beginning, and it's just been really awesome to grow with this tumblr community of museum people and other scientists and to be able share one another's successes and really encourage one another and celebrate our achievements, like using this website. It's a really good feeling.

So it just really frustrates me that there's still stigma by some people that just because I haven't breathed the same air our friendship is invalid. I don't need to have personal interaction with somebody to feel validated that they appreciate me and that we care about one another. Friends value one another, and you don't really put boundaries or borders around that.

People even regard internet dating as this crazy, weird, taboo thing. I mean, granted there are a ton more men than women on these sites so when women join they tend to be inundated by an obscene amount of messages, that doesn't mean that everybody on the other side of the screen is a total creeper.

We've improved this system for helping people to find others with similar interests and hobbies and goals and passions, and we should be taking advantage of it as much as possible. If you don't have friends in your classes or you don't know anybody at your work how do you make friends? You go to a group with people who have similar interests as you. Why is it so much different if that community and that group happens to be online?

Obviously you've got to take the appropriate precautions when talking with people online and you don't want to give away your personal information. If you do decide to meet you always want to meet in a public place, like don't be an idiot about it. But you would do the same thing on a first date or meeting with a new group of friends anyway.

Even though I've been complaining about it, I really do feel that like - it's becoming more and more acceptable to have friends in these online communities. I just personally can't wait for the day until I don't feel like throwing up or lying about who my friends are or how I met them. 

In the mean time, thanks for watching, you creepy weirdos.