When virtual friendships blossom beyond the computer screen
Every so often, you hear a story that warms the heart and delivers ‘feel good factor’ in spades. This is one of those stories.
At first glance, meeting friends through an online platform like the Virtual Social Centre (VSC) may seem out of your comfort zone. After all, socialising on a computer, laptop or tablet may not be something you’ve done before.
But for those who take the plunge and join the VSC, a whole new world of interaction, connection, learning, and support unfolds.
No-one knows this more than Wendy from New South Wales and Carmina from Western Australia. The VSC was the launchpad for their beautiful friendship, which became even more special after meeting each other in person.
The two ‘faraway friends’ enjoyed a fun-filled day together in Carmina’s hometown and the rest, as they say, is history.
Both Wendy and Carmina joined the VSC for similar reasons.
Wendy was particularly down and like most of us at one time or another, was struggling with life. She sadly lost her husband and was missing her beloved daughter and granddaughter who were living interstate.
Feeling disengaged and lonely, she reached out to a GP who thought the VSC might help her to reconnect with the outside world.
On the other side of the country, Carmina was experiencing health problems. As an extremely social person, not being able to get out and about was a big blow.
Her daughter heard about the VSC and thought it would be a great way for her to find like-minded people and learn new things while she was home-bound.
Wendy and Carmina decided the VSC was just what the doctor ordered (quite literally in Wendy’s case!) and singed on to the platform.
Both avid gardeners, they joined a gardening session to learn new tips and meet fellow garden enthusiasts.
They began chatting and soon discovered they shared more than a green thumb. They both doted on their gorgeous grandchildren and had experienced the death of their life partner.
Further catch-ups during the virtual sessions revealed that Wendy’s daughter lived in Perth, only one hour away from Carmina’s house in Mandurah.
With this common ground, the two women continued to nurture their relationship, exchanging stories, life experiences, endless laughs, and building a special connection.
One day Wendy announced that her daughter had invited her to Western Australia to celebrate an upcoming birthday. Excitedly, Wendy told her friend the news and Carmina proposed something neither had expected – a real life meeting!
Carmina, now more mobile, couldn’t get to the train station quick enough to pick up Wendy, her daughter and granddaughter, and take them back to her house for morning tea.
“I always call the people I meet and talk to on the VSC my ‘faraway friends,’ and it’s just so incredible that through this platform you can start a friendship… and then you actually get to meet them in person!” says Carmina.
Wendy echoes these sentiments wholeheartedly, thrilled that they had the opportunity to transform their virtual friendship into a face-to-face one.
“It was just tremendous, and not only did I get to meet Carmina and see her beautiful home, but she met my family – and I even got to meet her neighbour’s kids!”.
It was immediately evident to both ladies that their one-on-one connection was as special as their online friendship.
“Although I was a bit nervous, as soon as Carmina saw me, she gave me the biggest cuddle and I felt at ease,” remembers Wendy. “She is just so welcoming and the loveliest lady you’ll ever meet”.
Similarly, Carmina was over the moon to discover that “Wendy was exactly the same as I thought she’d be. A really, truly lovely lady who I’m so glad I had the chance to meet”.
After morning tea, Carmina took Wendy on a relaxing cruise around the canals, then the two settled into a cafe for lunch and of course, a whole lot more talking!
Besides the many beautiful things Carmina and Wendy had to say about each other, they agree how life-changing the VSC has been.
“It has helped my mental wellbeing so much” says Carmina. “I’ve learned new exercises like Tai-Chi and meditation, and I’ve met so many wonderful new ‘faraway friends’ like Wendy. I’m very blessed and the VSC is such an amazing thing”.
Wendy also believes the platform has had a “huge impact” on her life, and is so grateful to be part of such a supportive community.
“It’s been the best thing. It saved me during Covid; got me through that loneliness and isolation. And I’ve met some fantastic people who I never would have met otherwise”.
Wendy is welcome back at Carmina’s home any time and of course, Wendy is looking forward to hopefully one day returning the favour.
In the meantime, these two ‘faraway friends’ will continue to nurture their special bond on the VSC, along with the other invaluable connections they’ve made.