Now, I know what you’re thinking. Everyone has their own beliefs about meeting people on the internet. We’ve heard horror stories of kidnappings and serial killers. We were told of the pure evilness of the internet as if the devil himself orchestrated it. Now it was invading every household. With that in mind, I was certain to disguise myself behind a screen name that gave off little information about myself. Besides, it wasn’t just myself I had to think about here, for I had a toddler to protect!
I wasn’t as creative as this mysterious Shyknight character. I was just an ordinary girl stepping out into the vast unknown of the world wide web. SHB01 was what I came up with, which was later turned into Shooby by adoring fans. Ha! My “friends in the box” teased me with that nickname after we all became familiar with each other and comfortable enough to poke fun. Yes, even Sir Shyknight, who we later learned had a tendency to be a prankster.
Ah, but in those early days, we were all just putting ourselves out there little by little, wondering if we would be accepted. We came, just as we were from different walks of life, and surprisingly, we were welcomed with open arms. One by one, friendships were formed just by a couple of strangers sharing their heartache and pain, mixed with laughter along the way. Stories were shared of real-life struggles we were facing. Surprisingly to me, others were in deeper turmoil than I. They, too, were in need of support and found it harder as adults to make new friends. So, we sat at our computers, staring at the screen. Scrolling through the topics, we read pieces that allowed a glimpse into that person’s life. Often times we would take our conversations out of the public arena and into private emails or chats. We shared with complete honesty and transparency our innermost thoughts and feelings without holding back. That’s one thing about the internet. Because you don’t walk alongside them daily in real life, you feel free to bare your soul. You do so without hesitation or fear. You feel safe as you forge ahead. In doing so, true friendships were made. My new friends made me forget the ugliness that was going on around me. Through their acceptance, compassion, support, and encouragement, they restored my faith in humanity.
It became a nightly ritual for me. After reading my daughter’s favorite book to her, she would put her tiny hands together to pray. As she closed her eyes, the longest blonde eyelashes touched her cheeks. With her favorite blanket and her
pink “Love Me” bear by her side, I tucked her into bed. I kissed her on the forehead as she drifted off to dreamland. I sat watching my little angel sleep for a while. She was so peaceful. I stroked her hair as I admired this beautiful gift God has given me. I have always felt so completely blessed to be her mother. Not wishing to wake her, I would quietly sneak out of her room into the next. As I turned on the computer, I looked forward to sharing a few hours with my online friends.