Online Found Family: A Letter To All My Mutuals
Alexa, play Chosen Family by Rina Sawayama
According to UrbanDictionary, mutuals are those accounts you follow that follow you back. In my terms, it’s an active acknowledgment of each other’s existence on the internet. These become an entryway to fun conversations that either bloom into long-time friendships or short, fun-while-it-lasted companionships. We may be miles or time zones apart, but our love for our shared interests blossomed into mutual care and high regard for each other.
These mutuals turn into your friends. Friends who don’t care about your face or your background. Friends who are willing to lend an ear to listen, give you advice and indulge you with your antics. They tell you what’s right and what’s wrong, comforting you that you’re not alone with your thoughts. To put it bluntly, they’re an Online Found Family. They just lack the face-to-face factor. But of course, some can and will be outgrown a lot easier. But there are those that withstand the tests of time and distance. Now let me pen a letter to my mutuals.
To the ones who drifted (and might be drifting) apart,
Man, I hope you’re doing well. Have you finished university yet? I hope the internship you got in took you places and landed you a sweet job. It’s been a while since we decided that our shared interests don’t spark the same joy as they did before. It just happened naturally as we got older. When real life or a new interest catches up, logging on to that space has become less of a priority until we’ve fully abandoned our Tumblr blogs and niche Twitter accounts. One day, you remember that one old thing that made you happy and led you to meet great friends. And then you reminisce and think about how they’re doing, only to realize that you didn’t trade other kinds of socials.
It’s okay, though. I’m not entirely sad that we didn’t keep in touch. Perhaps our lives meant to only intersect at a time where we needed a friend who was a DM away. Maybe it was a time when we needed the comfort that anyone—either a few cities away or on the other side of the world—could understand the experience of growing up and liking an interest so passionately. Maybe that’s the course our friendship was supposed to run. Short. Sweet. But fulfilling. I am still so grateful that we met. You taught me that friendships don’t need to happen face-to-face. That I can find a confidante and best friend to share secrets with and let feelings our in the unlikeliest spaces.
While I might just be a hazy memory from your youth, I wish you all the best. May you reach all your goals and go down the path that brings you mostly good things. (I say mostly, because what’s life without a little hardship, amirite?) You’ve always been a strong one, even if you didn’t believe it yourself. Thank you for being part of the nicer chunks of my past, a part worth remembering.
And I hope it’s likewise on your side.
RELATED: When You Outgrow a Friendship
To the ones who stayed (and who want to stay),
I still remember our first conversation. It was awkward at first, but I ended up feeling so comfortable around you. That one exchanged together turned into eyeball meetings and coffee dates where we bonded over the loves of our lives and the woes of real life. We’ve grown up together: from cheering our fave group on while we streamed another comeback which we juggled with school work. We’ve gone from trading memes to trading job listings. Heck, we can already afford the merch that used to be just #goals. And I owe it to that group of boys (whether they’re a fictional volleyball team or a worldwide boy band sensation) for bringing us together.
Thank you for liking that tweet, for graciously replying to my overeager DM and for engaging with my old shitposts that would make present-me cringe. It still baffles me that our mutual-hood evolved into one that transcends social media and into real life. I used to think that friendships made on social media would have an expiration date. But it turns out that online friends, much like ones made in real life, don’t end like that at all. Your presence taught me that there are certain people who are meant to stay, become a permanent fixture in our lives even with the most unconventional beginnings.
This saying might be the most used in the past year, but it still holds true. I want to see you when all of this blows over. Whether it’s over coffee on weekends (if you’re near) or a grand trip to your side of the planet. Even if it might take another year for this to happen, I can definitely wait. But while we’re staying indoors you know how to reach me.
All the love and support,
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver