Like many folks who are active in social media or blogging, I spend a lot of time "meeting" and forming relationships with people online. All kinds of people, for all kinds of reasons.
I've met employers through friendly e-mail exchanges, made quality acquaintances over Twitter, industry contacts through blogging, and actual friends via Instagram.
Without a doubt, this is one of my favorite things about the internet: The genuine community that exists online, and the fact that I've formed real friendships with people who I enjoy talking to, working with, and feel inspired by. People who, in past years, I may have never met.
But when you take this offline, and try to explain to someone how you met a certain friend, it sounds a little weird.
My husband teases me about it. Because I work from home, when he returns to our flat at the end of the day I usually run up to him, not unlike a child, and tell him about my internet adventures. Which feels lame to type, much less say, even now.
"I met this girl and we e-mailed and now we're basically best friends."
"Cool. So how do you know her?"
"We have similar taste in Instagram."
I started Second Floor Flat some time after I moved to London because I was in search of a community, not to mention a new creative outlet.
After over two years living in this city and after blogging on and off, I have the foundations of a community that I really like and genuinely look forward to growing. Even if it sounds a little weird, my online friends are real friends in a way.
I have real relationships offline too, plenty of them, but I wouldn't shed my online community for anything.
And even better: Since these communities are not location specific, they can come along with you for the ride.
In my case, when we leave London and make it back to the States, my community will make the move with me. And once we're settled in North Carolina, I'll be able to start building a community of new friends there – both online and off, but both equally as real.
I can't wait to meet them.