I’m older than Titanic by three months.’”
Titanic the ship???”
“WHAT??? NO!!! TITANIC THE MOVIE!!!”
Aaaah, yes. A typical conversation in the Blind Babes Society group chat.
It all began on January 21, 2019. I was lying in bed, fingers flying across my phone screen as a comment I made on social media started gaining attention. It was a post about Roger Taylor, the drummer of Queen, and the fact that he refused to wear glasses for most of his younger career because he’s “a rockstar, dammit!” Because of that, there are a lot of photos from the 70s where he looks like he’s squinting and staring blankly due to his bad eyesight, and fans wasted no time poking fun at it. One fan even called him a “blind baby.” I had to react to that.
I began by saying how I, too, am a “blind baby,” nay, a “blind BABE,” and proud of it! I wear these smudged and scratched glasses with pride as I stand in solidarity with Roger Taylor in our shared suffering of having poor eyesight. I pressed send, and thought nothing of it.
Minutes later, my phone was buzzing. It turns out, tons of people like me were responding to my comment. “Same!” “I’m a blind babe too!” “Can I join the club?” “UGH relatable.” Soon, strangers were having conversations and making connections over two things: a love for Queen and eyesight problems. It was beautiful.
And this was the birth of the Blind Babe Society. Someone made a promotional poster, I designed a logo, Roger Taylor was declared our official mascot, and soon, a group chat was formed for the people who became friends in the post’s comments section. In less than 24 hours, the Blind Babe Society™️ group chat had more than a dozen members, and we were chatting away about the struggles of having glasses (“I hate it when people take off your glasses to hold up their fingers and ask ‘How many fingers am I holding?’” “UGH YES you understand my pain!”) and exchanging photos of our glasses (“Ooh! I like your wire framed ones!” “I like the shape of your lenses!”). It was surreal. And it was awesome.
Eventually, things quieted down and we all thought that it was going to end, that it’s been fun, that we’d eventually move on. But somehow, someway, it lived on. It could’ve been because of the Harry Potter debates we had after we found more common interests. It could’ve been the number of inside jokes that started growing (“WIG.” “Yokes.” “We measure the snow in corgis.” “I choked on my curdle.”) It could’ve been when someone opened up about her struggles and everyone offered advice and a virtual shoulder to cry on. It could’ve been when we all listened to music together and sang along, despite the WiFi connection lagging, which caused some people to sound hilariously out of sync. It could’ve been anything, really, but we cannot deny that this group of strangers from around the world slowly formed into a tight-knit circle of friends.
What I can’t take for granted, though, is how extremely lucky I am that this group chat didn’t (or hasn’t!) gone totally wrong. I haven’t forgotten the “never talk to strangers” speech my parents gave me years ago, when I was just dipping my toes into the vast ocean that is the internet. For all I know, I could be chatting about Marvel movies with child predators! Child pornography, cyber bullying, and online harassment cases are much too common and have victimized people all over the world. A very talented YouTube animator, illymation, made a three part video series about an abusive and toxic five year relationship she was manipulated into entering. He “groomed” or manipulated her online when she was just 13 years old, when all she wanted was some online friends Most of these victims are minors, like illymation, and like me. It scares me, just as it should. The internet is not a safe place.
But the real world isn’t either, right? And that doesn’t stop us from meeting new people, exploring and learning new things, and making new friends.
The Blind Babe™️ Society started as a joke taken way too seriously and it grew into a family that was founded on common interests, respect, and humor. I won’t hesitate to say that the relationships I formed with this group of girls surpasses some of the friendships I’ve made in real life, where you never know who’s real and who’s true. Isn’t it ironic that a stranger hiding behind online anonymity can be more genuine than a schoolmate, a coworker, or an acquaintance that you’re not sure even likes or respects you?
I firmly believe that most internet dwellers just want the same things we do: to stay in tune to the world around us and make and maintain lasting and meaningful connections. In the real world. like minded people gravitate towards each other, and it’s even easier to do so online. I know firsthand that it’s empowering to be able to join in on conversations, partake in discussions, and make new friends where no one cares who you are, where you’re from, what gender or sexuality you identify with, as long as you have something good to say, if you have something special. Where in the “real world” can you say that’s possible?
The friendships I have formed with Pebbs, Julia, Grace, Becca, Victoria, Jade, Sam, Cathy, and Florgi are just as valid and valuable as my friendships in “the real world.” They have cheered me up and cheered me on, and I gladly do the same for them. Will this last forever? Will we stay close as the years go by? Is this just a fleeting thing?
No matter how fleeting, I’m thankful for the experiences I shared with these glasses-wearing girls. I’m so lucky that my own personal experience with online friendships has been positive. Even if we grow apart, I’ll still look back and laugh at the time Cathy fell asleep during a voice call, or when we watched the first three seconds of the Bee Movie before the server crashed. But for now, we continue planning our future Blind Babe™️ mansion where we’ll all live together one day, complete with a pool, a fireplace, and a gold framed screenshot of the comments section where it all began.
Author’s note: I acknowledge and understand the dangers of forming friendships on the internet. This is only an account of a positive personal experience I had, and not a piece that supports or encourages such groups.. I ask parents of young teenagers and children to guide and train them on how to make wise and prudent decisions while online. Thank you.