Social networks aren't just about making connections, hookups, or simply acquaintances. Sometimes there's something a bit more to them.
This summer, I started talking to someone on IRC after having listed them as a friend on LiveJournal for about a month. For a while I de-friended her - she posts many political commentaries, and I was switching over to dialup and trying to cut out the 200+ posts a day I was seeing on my friends page. Shortly thereafter, though, I refriended her, because I found her interesting enough it was worth spending the time waiting for the content over dialup.
As we grew to talk more and more, we started talking on the phone. For hours a night, we would talk about almost nothing -- sharing life stories, talking about the way things were for us, and how we wish they were instead. We'd talk about nothing and everything, all at once.
Slowly, we grew closer and closer, and my flirting relationships began to die out. I was single at the time, and basically flirting online with anything that moved. (Okay, I avoided guys for the most part, but still.) I was working a night job - 4pm-12:30am, sometimes later - so when I got off work, I'd make a phone call to keep myself awake on the drive home, and continue talking until I went to bed around 4 in the morning.
All of this started with just a little bit of talking on IRC. All of it started with just a little bit of networking through LiveJournal.
On June 27th, 2003, I first met the girl I love today. She delayed a flight from New Hampshire to Seattle through Chicago, so that we could spend that one day together. From that point on, I started making plans to spend more time with her. Not really thinking the relationship would work, we just kind of held on.
On a four week road trip from coast to coast, I covered territory from Chicago to Seattle to New Hampshire and back. The most incredible time I had was the 7 days I spent, from August 3rd to August 10th, with the wonderful girl I met on LiveJournal. On that trip, I met 27 other people who I'd previously only known online - but she was the most special out of all of them.
That girl is the girl I still love today. Whether we're fighting over whose turn it is to go out and pick up dinner, trying to decide which one of us gives the kids a bath tonight, or just talking about which movie we haven't seen a dozen times before, she's absolutely amazing. When we both just want to lie next to each other and look into each others eyes, she's there for me. Despite the 1000 miles that separate us most of the time, I feel closer to her than I do anyone else in the world.
The girl I love is the girl I met here, on LiveJournal, over a year ago. Our relationship has gone through trials and tribulations, but we've never wanted to really give it up. In the course of the relationship, we've used LiveJournal to communicate needs, desires, stories, and more with our friends and between each other. In a type of relationship so typically fraught by lack of social connections outside of each other, we've used a group of people familiar to both of us as a way to keep connected. Through IRC and this very website, we've kept connected to each other in a way that is typically so difficult in long distance relationships.
Although I'll admit it's been rough - keeping connections online does lead to connections which at times can be dangerously tenuous - it's been the best time of my life. I've learned so much about myself and people. I've learned so much about how to do things, how to share, how to open up, and I just feel that through the power of LiveJournal, I've met someone who I've learned to trust and open up to, even in a relationship so physically distant as ours.
This could be seen as a "thank you" to LiveJournal for what its given me. To me, its just an expression of joy that I have, and have been able to maintain, the social relationship that truly matters to me, and I think much of it is thanks to LiveJournal and the friends we both have made through being here.
Thank you to all the friends who have helped me hold together against all odds, and thank you most to Jess because you're the one that matters to me, and likely always will.
For me, this is what social networking is all about.