Posted: Oct 21, 2012 6:00 AM
I won a contest online. I had been blogging for less than a year, and it was one of the first blog giveaways I had entered. The blogger emailed me right away to let me know I had won a $50 Target gift card and, by the way, she needed a mailing address.

GASP! Share my address with an online "friend"? How did I know she wasn’t a creepy man living in his mother’s basement posing to be a blogger?

I was so conflicted. I thought about fake addresses I could give her. A P.O. Box? The gift card was too tempting... I gave her my address and asked her not to stalk me.

She responded by saying the gift card was in the mail and she would never stalk me, but that she might send me a Christmas card. And she has — every year. Because I consider myself somewhat of a pro after this, I’d like to point out sure signs to tell if your online friendship is real... and not, in fact, a creepy man living in his mother’s basement. Unless, of course, that’s the kind of blog friend you’re looking for. To each her own.

Has your online friend sent you a Target gift card?

A real friend buys your groceries. I’m sorry, if your online friend has not sent you a gift card or other gift then your friendship is not real.

Has your online friend linked to you from her blog or other social media account?

A real friend wants everyone to know how awesome you are. If your friend is not pimping you out, then I’m sorry... your online friendship is not real (or you’re not awesome... one of the two).

Does your online friend know each of your kids' names?

A real friend is familiar with your children’s names, birthdays, and dinner preferences. If your online friend knows only one of those three things then be patient, this may be the early throes of friendship and there is room for growth. If they cannot answer any of those three things then I’m sorry... your online friendship is not real.

Has your online friend asked you to wire money to Africa to help an ailing aunt?

A real friend knows you don’t know the first thing about wiring money. Instead they will ask you to deposit money for their ailing African aunt directly into their paypal account which should match their Twitter name. If your online friend is asking for wired money, then I’m sorry... your online friend is a scammer.

Does your online friend dress in Old Navy clothing and spend hours at a time posing at the retail store?

I’m sorry, your online friend is an Old Navy mannequin.

Are online friendships real? You bet they are! The internet is filled with women experiencing exactly what you are experiencing. They offer support and a laugh when you need it most. You will find some of your most trustworthy friends on the internet... but please be careful. It’s important to know who you’re talking to. None of us wants to find a BFF only to find out she’s a creepy man living in his mother’s basement... or a scammer... or an Old Navy mannequin.

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