The Internet is Weird

Over the last year I have made some new, wonderful friends. People who have helped, and encouraged me. People I have laughed with, made fun of, and in general caused mayhem.

People I have never actually met in real life.

I don’t know a great deal about these men and women on the internet. But I like them. They tell great stories. We have similar senses of humor, and love writing, and reading, and share a lot of similar goals.

I count them as friends.

I suppose this isn’t quite as unusual as it would have been just ten years ago. Many of us now have friends that we’ve never actually seen face to face. Never had a cup of coffee with. Never hugged, or shook hands. But the people on the other side of that google hang out are just as wonderful, and I would miss them just as much, as any other of my friends. (Especially Cyndi 😉 )

I am unsure if this development in our culture is good, or bad. It has allowed me, a person who is uncomfortable in crowds and often socially inept, the safety of a computer screen to feel completely at peace with chatting with more then two people at once. And has even bled over into my physical life.

On the other hand, there is still a distance. If something were to happen to one of my friends that live down the street I would know within a matter of days, if not hours. If something were to happen to one of my internet friends… would I ever know?

I suppose it is no different then if I had a pen pal back in ye old Victorian days, and the letters simply stopped coming. This is probably also why living wills and wills now sometimes include passwords, or other information to inform those who might be interested.

In a world that is increasingly becoming connected, and at the same time disconnecting from one another, we are adjusting to technology, and the idea that boarders, and distance rarely matter.

Perhaps there is a story in this idea… one in which a boy, smitten by a girl in a city far away, suddenly loses contact, and travels across the country, or the world, to find her.

Perhaps it’s just a reminder that life is fragile, and precious, and we should all take the time to appreciate our friends weather they live down the block, or on the other side of the world.


11 thoughts on “The Internet is Weird

  1. Maybe I don’t really think about this because my experience online started with local bulletin board systems, where it was understood that you would never meet someone even though they lived down the block. That was just the way of the virtual world.

    Facebook always seemed kinda backwards to me. Lots of online connections based on people I’ve met in real life that I don’t interact with at all anymore. I had stronger friendships between avatars where I never knew the other person’s real name.

    The best part of an online connection is that they are temporary, because that’s far more truthful than how we conduct ourselves in real life. When it’s time for that friendship to be over, it ends. Sometimes with a bang, and sometimes with a whimper… but always when the time is right.

    • Back during Everquest days I met a guy, and we became best friends. It’s been 10 years, and we’re still great friends. He and his wife helped me move, let me and my three children move into his house, for three months while I was getting a job and a place to live. He has given me great advice, even co-signed on my lease so that I could get an apartment. All because we played Everquest together.

      Perhaps I think about this more because for a very long time the only interaction I had with other people was online. I had no car, no phone, no transportation of any kind, an I lived an hour away from town. I have friends that would talk to me, sometimes for hours, while I was upset and hurt. And lots of them are still friends, even to this day. I have called them, chatted with them, and comforted them in their time of need, too.

      I’ve had a lot of temporary friends, too. But I am really grateful for the lasting ones, and I hope that I make more of those.

    • I agree with Nic. I also have a ton of friends I started on the net with, some in games, some not, but those are 15+ year friendships. I have met some and not others. Facebook vrought back people that wasn’t in my life anymore for a reason. You and the people I choose to be friends with online are morw meangingful relationships.

  2. Since I’ve been on Google+, I’ve known two people whose posts I read and with whom I had connected that have passed away. Sometimes, you find out about it shortly after it happens. A spouse will log into the account and make a post. Sometimes, it takes weeks as someone who has met that person in real life investigates why they have stopped posting and eventually writes a post talking about how they have passed away.

    Social media, G+ specifically, has really helped me connect with thousands of wonderful people whom I would have never otherwise met. I too am grateful for the opportunity to get to know so many like-minded individuals. It’s a wonderful time to be alive.

    • I’ve been thinking about leaving behind instructions if anything were to happen to me specifically for this purpose. I don’t have a spouse… yet… but I’m working on that too. Maybe one of my children?

  3. I wrote a whole post about this a while back, although your title is better:

    I think internet friends are MUCH BETTER than in-person friends in most cases. The reason is that most “normal” friends are base on coincidence and geographic proximity: you’re friends because you live next door; you’re friends because you live in the same town and are the same age and hence end up in the same class at school. You end up working at the same company. Shit like that.

    Internet friendships are intentional. You have to be proactive to have them, which makes them conscious choices rather than acquaintances by default. You have to seek out people who are into the same things you’re into, and that means they’re based on common interests rather than coincidence.

    I met Sean and Dave, for instance, online. I didn’t meet Sean in person for maybe 2 years later and still haven’t seen Dave in person ever. Yet I spend way more time with those two than anyone other than my family. Hail internet!

  4. Laughter & Encouragement Encouragement & Laughter Yes, yes, indeed definitely interchangeable. The professor advises it quite hardily! Oh, certainly try Punchyish too. It really does wonders……

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