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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.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
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Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

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In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

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Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.