Every week, The Friendship Files features a conversation between The Atlantic’s Julie Beck and two or more friends, exploring the history and significance of their relationship.
This week she talks with a group of friends who met in the comments section (or "the basement," as they called it) of the women's blog Jezebel in the late 2000s. They later moved their discussions onto a private forum site, and eventually onto Facebook, where the group The Basement now has about 25 active members. In this interview, five of the Basement members discuss how a desire for connection brought them to the comments section, the argument over telling one another their real names, and the group vacations that cemented their real-life connection.
Jayne Andrews, 34, a director at a publishing company in the Bay Area
Melinda Diederich, 37, a manager at a software company in Denver
Lia Hernandez, 35, a tech-support professional in Huntington Beach, California
Ali Hewitt, 37, a publishing sales manager in New Westminster, Canada
Jessica Werner, 38, a children's librarian in Seattle
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Julie Beck: So you all started commenting on Jezebel around 2008 or 2009. Very important question: What were your handles?
Lia Hernandez: I was “TheQueenofNo.”
Ali Hewitt: I was “littlemissvan,” which is still to this day my handle on anything I comment on, and my Instagram handle.
Jayne Andrews: It was “yahtzii,” like Yahtzee spelled really dumb. I don't know why.