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4 awesome ‘how we met’ friendship stories that will inspire you to get online.

Friends can come from anywhere, especially the vast expanses of the internet.

4 awesome ‘how we met’ friendship stories that will inspire you to get online.
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"How'd you two meet?"

Photo by Don LaVange/Flickr.

It's the quintessential question couples and longtime friends always get asked. Today, however, there's one answer that's becoming particularly common: "Actually, we met online."


More and more people, especially from younger generations, are getting to know each other via online avenues first rather than in real life. They might spend an inordinate amount of time on their computers and phones, but at least finding a true friend is one great thing that can come out of it.  

Due to its uncanny ability to connect anyone anywhere, the internet has become a healthy petri dish in which friendships often blossom.

According to recent Pew Research poll, 57% of teens have made new friends online. But these friendships don’t just stay online. Many teens decide to set up real-life meetings with their online friends. According to a BBC survey, 1 in 3 teens who have made a friend online will eventually meet that person face-to-face.

Unfortunately this gregariousness isn't universal. Millennials, for example, are often called the loneliest generation because many let technology isolate them rather than connect them to others.

There are some millennials, however, who've overcome the initial awkwardness of meeting online friends in person and created great, long-lasting friendships as a result.

Here are four examples of unique friendships that began online and eventually made it into three dimensions.

Business partners before friends.

So grateful for my sister, work-wife, friend and the most talented coach I've ever known - @coachjennie

A post shared by Annie Passanisi (@nibsieruggles) on

Annie P. Ruggles and Jennie Mustafa-Julock met on Twitter over six years ago. "I don't know if I was interviewing people or she was, but we were both new [entrepreneurial] coaches looking for good colleagues," Ruggles explains in a Facebook message. "One of us responded to a tweet."

"We tweeted back and forth and decided to hop on one Skype call to get to know one another," Mustafa-Julock writes, piggy-backing on Ruggles' comment in the same Facebook message.

That was it. The two women realized pretty much immediately they were meant to be friends — and, soon after, business partners.

"Work love at first Skype," Ruggles exclaims.

The two created a company, Hungry Entrepreneurs — a support system for small-business runners looking for coaching and collaboration. They ran the whole thing via Skype and phone. They even wrote two Amazon best-sellers together.

"We ran a business together for two years before we ever met in person," writes Mustafa-Julock.

After two years, the business fizzled out for a number of reasons — Mustafa-Julock's writing career was taking off and Ruggles was about to get married. But the two stayed close, and, thanks to Mustafa-Julock's book tour, they finally got to meet in person.

When they met, "I think we hugged for like 12 minutes," Ruggles recalls. "So now it's been 6 years. We talk everyday. Sometimes all damn day."

High school Rufus Wainwright fans.

Tim and Maria with their respective cats. Photos by Tim Swanger and Maria MaKenna, used with permission.

Tim Swanger and Maria MaKenna met online 12 years ago when they were in high school, through a slightly older-school technology: an online message board designed to bring fans of Rufus Wainwright together.

"It became, for me, a place to 'meet' like-minded people and negotiate the troubled waters of adolescence when I was surrounded in the physical world by people who didn't seem much like me," Swanger explains in an email.

After meeting on the message board, the two began talking regularly online and on the phone. "We bonded over failed relationships, common politics, and shared nerdiness," Swanger recounts. This went on for years before they met in person at a play in which MaKenna was performing.

"Maria in-the-flesh was not fundamentally different from her online persona. Hanging out together was pretty much just an extension of that."

"I will add that Tim's love of Rufus Wainwright faded, but mine did not," McKenna adds.

Cancer survivor support.

Jason and Jen. Photo by Jason Nellis, used with permission

Jason Nellis and Jen Fox both had cancer in their 20s. Five years ago, after Nellis was already in remission, he saw Fox's post on Tumblr about being in the midst of treatment, so he reached out to say hello. They didn't know each other previously, but Nellis felt connected to Jen because of their shared experience.

"I saw someone going through a really shit time in their life and I wanted to offer a friendly voice," Nellis writes in a Facebook message.

They began talking about their respective experiences with cancer, and, over time, less serious stuff. Eventually they became friends. It wasn't until Fox got into George Washington University, years after they first connected online, that the two decided to meet.

"Once Jen and I met in person and had the first few minutes of 'are you a real person or did I get catfished' we both became fast IRL friends," recounts Jason. "We went to Buttercream Bakeshop in D.C. And made it a weekly ritual."

New mom in town.

Carol B. and her baby Helen. Photo by Carol B., used with permission.

Carol B. recently moved to Pleasantville, New York, with her husband, and now they have a baby girl. Since she didn't really know anyone who lived in the area, she decided to use Facebook to try to find a few local moms who might be willing to let her and her baby into their circle.

"I searched 'Pleasantville' and 'moms,' and found a Facebook moms group right away," Carol writes in a Facebook message. "I introduced myself on the group page and got a lot of nice responses and welcomes, including an invite to join a separate 'playdate' page."

Soon after she initially reached out, she put herself out there even more. "I saw a post about a 'mom's night out' and I went for it, and met a lot of nice women. After that, I started going to different mom meet-ups with the baby, and before I knew it I suddenly knew a bunch of my neighbors."

Lasting connections can be formed all sorts of ways. In an age when technology is a staple of our lives, its hand in our relationships only makes sense.

Whether you're actively seeking a friend or not, there's no telling what sparks may fly when you put yourself out there in the digital world. It's easier now than it ever has been to strike up a friendship — across countries, cultures, and even political divides.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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via Wikimedia Commons and Goalsetter

America's ethnic wealth gap is a multi-faceted problem that would take dramatic action, on multiple fronts, to overcome. One of the ways to help communities improve their economic well-being is through financial literacy.

Investopedia says there are five primary sources of financial education—families, high school, college, employers, and the military — and that education and household income are two of the biggest factors in predicting whether someone has a high level of financial literacy.

New Orleans Saints safety, two-time Super Bowl Champion, and social justice activist Malcolm Jenkins and The Malcolm Jenkins Foundation hope to help bridge the wealth gap by teaching students about investing at a young age.

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2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.