Closer: A teenager discovers friendship from far away
My name is Lucinda Dobson. I'm 14-years-old. I go to Yellow Springs High School and I'm in the 9th grade. I make rings, earrings, bracelets and necklaces, and I sell them over Instagram. My story's about online friendships and relationships. Quarantine gave people a lot of free time and opportunities to be on the internet more. A lot of people use that time to make online friends, since most people can go out into public and hang out with people during the pandemic. Instagram is a free social media app where you can post pictures, videos and live stream. You can even message other people via video chat and voice chat. I went on the website and for my interest—I typed TikTok. After chatting and skipping with a few people, I met someone named Hermes.
Hermes: Hello. I am Hermes. I am from the Philippines and I am Lucinda's friend.
Narrator: That's Hermes. He's 15. Lucinda and Hermes have been talking almost every day for the past two years.
Lucinda: Okay. This is my mom.
Hermes: Hey, you look so beautiful.
Lucinda Thank you. Can you hear me okay?
Hermes: Yeah. Yeah.
Lucinda: Hermes personality's almost as bright as his smile. He likes to cook and clean, and he's even tried to teach me how to make pancakes over video chat. It did not end well. Do you have other online friends?
Hermes: I used to have online friends. But you came in my life and I don't talk to any other people outside my country anymore.
Lucinda: Well, I have a couple other online friends, but like, I'm not as close to them as I am with you. That's cool. Tell me about your family.
Hermes: In Filipino culture, it's common to have big families still have connections, you know?
Lucinda: So would you want to, like, meet each other in the future when we get a chance to?
Hermes: Of course, if I have a stable job. Actually, I have a plan for my life. After I graduate nursing, I will go to another country. And if I save money or if I have a job to save a life now, I will come to you, I guess, and meet you. I don't know anything about in America. I know of that. Can you tell me about your home?
Lucinda: I like living here a lot. I've moved around a lot, but I live really close to, like, town where all the shops and stuff are. And I can, like, hang out with friends a lot because they live pretty close. Like, we live pretty close to each other.
Hermes: Do you see yourself in the future going to Philippines?
Lucinda: To visit you? Definitely. If I can get that much money.
Hermes: Do you think it will be different than the other? And really?
Lucinda: I'm excited for that. I think we'll have a lot of fun in person, but like, I feel like we get used to each other, you know?
Hermes: I think we'll be screaming and stuff.
Lucinda: Bye Hermes. I'll text you later. Bye, love you!
Since people started going back to in-person schooling. We've all been busier, including Hermes and I. I still talk to him today, but not as much as I did during quarantine. I do think most parents should be aware when you're talking to other people online, mostly for safety reasons. My mother didn't know I had online friends until recently, but when I told her, she thought it was cool. I really want to meet Hermes in person and spend time together and really do all the things that we talk about doing. I hope it happens someday. I really enjoy video calling with him. For Dayton Youth Radio at Yellow Springs High School. This is Lucinda Dobson.
Special thanks to Dorian Mays, Matthew Willis and Peter Day