I signed up to Livejournal in July 2007 – I was 15. Livejournal was where all the fandom stuff was happening back then, it was where you could find great discussions, theories and the more creative side of fandom including fanvid’s and fanficiton. To start with I didn’t really use my LJ for much besides commenting on other people’s posts and generally lurking about the Doctor Who/Torchwood fandom. It wasn’t until May 2008 that I started using my own Livejournal more than just for meme’s and ramblings about the latest episode of Doctor Who.
From mid-2008 my Livejournal became my online diary and through that diary, and the subsequent other people’s LJ’s that I met through fandom, I made friends online. There is a bit of a stigma or fear (especially from parents and in some way’s it’s justified) about meeting people online and having online friends. But the people I’ve met through LJ are wonderful.
I wrote about some of the toughest things in my life on my LJ – death of a loved one, exam stress, friend troubles, you name it I wrote about it. And it was wonderful to have this faceless person comment and tell you “you’re not being silly” or “I’m sorry for your loss” and “everything will work out in the end.” I’m lucky enough to have awesome people in my life who say that sort of thing to my face but there’s something special about forging a connection with someone you’ve never met in person. It goes both ways, when I read that one of my LJ friends (and they are friends even if we’ve never met in person) has lost a loved one or that things are stressful at work or they’re going through relationship issues – my heart goes out to them. Sometimes it felt like writing a comment of “*hugs* Hope it’ll sort itself out soon” doesn’t feel like enough but it’s the best I can do. And I know I appreciate those small comments when I’m not feeling great so I hope it helps them too.
I think sometimes it helped because a lot of my LJ friends were older than me, some only a couple of years but one was about 10 years older than me. So as I went through the trials and tribulations of choosing my A-Level’s or the craziness of Fresher’s Week at University – there were people there (that weren’t my mum) that could listen and impart their wisdom after doing the same sort of stupid things I did. In some ways I don’t need that anonymous face of reassurance anymore, I’ve always had my mum to talk to and now I have a best friend who I can talk to about anything so between them I’ve got a “real world” support network.
I’ve only met one of my LJ friends in person, and it was probably the one person who lived the furthest away from me. She’s from Australia but was in the UK for a couple of months and put it out there – if there’s anyone in London that would like to meet up let me know – so I did. We spent pretty much a whole day together, we went to the pub and the cinema and it didn’t feel weird at all. We’d been reading about each other’s lives for years so it was just like we were old friends who hadn’t seen each other for ages. I’d love to meet up with more of my LJ friends.
I don’t use my Livejournal that much anymore – it’s been quite quiet on there after LJ had technical issues and the migration of fandom to other sites like Tumblr – but I was using it a lot till towards the end of last year. That’s 6 years of my life on Livejournal, 6 years talking to some amazing people, and 6 years of laughs, tears and everything in between. I grew up on Livejournal, from age 15 to 22. I won’t ever delete my LJ, it is my diary, it’s got some of my best and worst moments on there and the people I met are a part of that.
While I don’t use my LJ much anymore, I do have a lot of my LJ friend’s on twitter so we still keep in touch. We still chat about fandom related stuff (new fandoms, same drama) and cheer each other on when something good happens.
I get why there is a fear of meeting strangers on the internet, but you can meet some amazing like-minded people who can be there to listen when you really don’t want to talk to anyone in the real world. Online friends can be amazing, and some of the best people you’ll ever meet, I wouldn’t change my time on Livejournal for anything.