“You meet up with internet strangers?!”

Hey guys,

I’ve wanted to blog about this for a while, but was never sure on the words. I know that the world, especially the internet, can be a super dangerous place. There are all sorts of unsavory people lurking out there, and quite often, you hear horror stories regarding unsuspecting internet users being sucked into a dark world, and kidnapped or attacked or groomed. Well, I’m not disputing these things happen. But what I need to talk about is how wonderful the internet has been for me.

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As you probably are aware, I am a fully fledged Black Milk addict and sharkie. I own over 50 pieces of Black Milk and collect it like our grandparents used to collect stamps. Well with the brand, there is also a very strong community. A community that spans the globe, with every member having a love for the shiny nylon Black Milk produces. There are thousands of us. (We call ourselves sharkies, a nickname due to the ‘feeding frenzy’ when new pieces are released.) Now of course, there are a couple of people who don’t see eye to eye with others – I mean, that’s what makes it interesting. But what I want to talk about is how I have one of the strongest senses of belonging, since joining the community 3 years ago and why internet friends might not be all bad.

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Recently I attended the second Camp Sharkie. I went to the first one last year. I have also attended last years xmas party and taken part in secret santas and gift giving events. That’s right, I have attended events arranged by strangers on the internet. I’ve twice spent an entire weekend with +70 strangers in the middle of the forest (well Centerparcs) and NOTHING HAPPENED.

You see, this community isn’t just a group of people who love the same clothes. We talk to each other, we visit each other, we share tips and tricks, we send gifts. Hell, we love each other. There is no bias, no hate, and any there is will be stamped out as quickly as possible by the wonderful admin team. We send each other presents. We lift each other up when we’re feeling down. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve just needed someone to speak to, someone to be there, and guess what? They were. I’ve made some of the best friends through the internet, and I hope others feel the same about me. More than once, someone has been having an exceptionally bad time and a large group of the community has pulled together, shared the cost, and treated that individual because they deserve it.

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Half my Facebook friends are now sharkies. I’ve also got ‘real life Cheltenham friends’ who I’ve bonded with over Black Milk. I’m in multiple online groups, some that are just for an area or a country, and some that are for an other interest (such as Harry Potter or makeup). Others come in the form of support groups, whether its for mental health, or fitness, there is a group out there. Now, these groups don’t come without their little niggles, as I stated before, but at the same time, that really is life. You really can’t get on with everyone. However what you can do, is prove that the internet doesn’t have to be scary. Sometimes all someone needs is someone to talk to, and maybe face to face really is too hard, but a chat with a ‘stranger’ really does help.

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So to all my sharkies out there, loves ya! And a special mention goes out to BMUK and SS, I love you guys ❤

Abbie xx

**DISCLAIMER** Please always consider your safety before meeting strangers from the internet. I have been lucky enough to do so as I have local friends who are in the same community as well as taking Jack with me to my first few meets. Please never put yourself in danger and always tell someone you trust where you are going.

***Some photos are from my camera, others from other sharkies. Please let me know if a photo is yours and you would like me to remove it or would like credit!***

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