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World Friendship Day: Three incredible stories of friendship (and more) that started online

Friendship, just like many other things in life, has been completely transformed by the internet. Before the online world was opened up the start of most friendships was fairly formulaic, with the majority starting either at school or work.

Thanks to social media and being able to connect with and find people all over the world, friendships and relationships in general have changed for the better.

To celebrate World Friendship Day we’ve found three heart-warming stories of friendships (and some other kind of ‘-ships’) that wouldn’t have been possible without the wonders of the internet.

Strangers – business partners – best friends

A single tweet can change your life. Annie Ruggles and Jennie Mustafa-Julock discovered this to be true when way back in 2011 one of them (they can’t remember which one) responded to the other’s tweet about looking for colleagues. Both were entrepreneurial coaches on the search for people to work with, and they didn’t stop chatting from that first 280-character message.

The pair quickly moved over to Skype to get to know each other better, and instantly felt a deep platonic connection. Ruggles quips that it was "work love at first Skype".

However, it wasn’t just a friendship that blossomed online. The two women quickly decided to start a business together, before they’d even met IRL! The venture finished up when other parts of their lives began to take precedence, however they eventually managed to meet up in person and "hugged for like 12 minutes", according to Ruggles.

Their friendship remained, however, and now they talk "every day, sometimes all day".

We found love in a digital place

Beyond friendships, millions of people have found romance online thanks to dating websites, apps and social media. The internet also helped bring Chloe Smith and Daniele Marisco together, but it wasn’t on a dating app.

Chloe, from Wolverhampton, was on holiday in Spain when she met Daniele, an Italian from Naples. Both felt an initial attraction, but unfortunately neither could speak the other’s language. Usually this would be a serious barrier to love, but the pair found a way past it with the help of Google translate. The online tool helped them get through the initial conversations and get to know one another, and soon they were both speaking each other’s languages.

As of 2019 they were still together, living in south London. Daniele said of the relationship: “We’ve shown any doubters that we’re meant to be. From the very start I had a good feeling about Chloe. She’s my soulmate.”

Long lost brothers

This story is a little different, as it didn’t start online, but certainly turned into something bigger thanks to the internet.

Alan Robinson and Walter Macfarlane may have the most wholesome friendship story of all time. The two men from Hawaii met as young children and have been best friends for over sixty years. Like all best friends, they knew they shared a deep bond, but didn’t realise just how deep their connection truly was.

The pair were born within 15 months of each other, and while Robinson was adopted, Macfarlane didn’t know who his father was. A few years ago they both started searching for their families using a DNA website, but what they found was a wonderful surprise.

The best buds discovered they were actually brothers. Thanks to the website Macfarlane learned that Robinson and he shared a birth mother, but had been completely unaware of their fraternal connection in the decades they had been friends.

Family revelations can sometimes be damaging to relationships, however the two men’s existing friendship made the surprise a happy one. When the news was announced Robinson told reporters that discovering Macfarlane was his brother was “the best Christmas present I could ever imagine having”.


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