Instafriends: Making Connections and Meeting IRL

Have you met my friend Tara aka @taralaferrara? She's a really cool girl, and just what you see online is what you get in real life. I first connected with Tara a few years ago through Instagram and we met IRL last year.

When I tell people I've met a lot of my friends through Instagram I get one of two reactions:

People think that's really amazing!

Others are perplexed with the look of 'you can't meet people in real life?'

That's not the case at all; I'm very social and do make friends in a real-life setting. But in today's day in age, the way we connect has shifted. I think it's a fantastic tool we have because it can put you in contact with interesting, like-minded people all around the globe. For many people, their online lives are an extension of their offline ones.

Tara hasn't been the only person I've met on Instagram.

There have been plenty of other amazing women that I've connected with on Instagram and later met in real life like my good and close friend Maxene (aka @MaxenesTrail) we were brought together for our love of food, cocktails and mutuals friends; Jo Encarnacion (aka @gofitjo) during a Barre3 retreat in Portland; Aurora during a trip to her home-base in Mexico City, Cristina Ricci (@addictedtolovely) an LA-based blogger and podcaster that is from the same area where I grew up. There was also my dear friend Bernadette (aka @petiteandtoned) also from San Francisco that came out to visit me in Portland.

We often associate online friendships as weaker or less genuine than those offline. But making friends online doesn’t mean they will not turn into real friendships. According to an article in the CyberPsychology journal, some people who meet online do eventually meet in offline settings. It is only natural that this happens because of the more profound connection and bonds made through shared common interests.

Making connections online is just like making connections in person but a bit better! Let me explain... We know everything there is to know about people's lives via our news feed on Instagram: what they ate for dinner, who they are dating, what products to try. Because of this, it helps to figure out whether you have similar interests that you can build a friendship on. 

Instagram in many ways helps us establish the shared interests and passions all of you shared. Mutual interests promote connection. Even though you barely knew each other, merely being authentically YOU and sharing your vulnerabilities that others can relate to help create a deeper relationship with others.

Making friends online, and maintaining these connections can essentially form an online emotional safety net. When people encounter struggles, they often want to talk about it and feel heard. Having these online friendships provides a safe space where people can discuss how they feel. It's not any more different than in real life and when you meet people in real life.

Have you made connections on Instagram and then met IRL? Share it with me on Instagram - @valeriefidan!

Valerie Fidan

Valerie is a San Francisco native who gave up the comforts of home to travel the world continuously. Now based in Portland, OR, Valerie is a Social Media Marketing Consultant, helping solo entrepreneurs and small business owners DIY their social media by teaching them the in’s and out’s of SMM. She enjoys health hacking recipes, a good cocktail, yoga, hikes, live shows, puns & dad jokes.