Last night I started thinking about friends. Online friends in particular. I got my first taste of online friends back in 1990 when Geek Man and I had a BBS. Seems like forever ago. We got a quick intro into how it all works. In that short span of about 6 months, we found not only a friend who led Geek Man to a great job, but I was priviledged enough to get my own scary stalker freak. Oh yes, we had big fun back then.
Later on with IRC, I met people that I really got to be very close to. We all talked at least once a day and after well over a year, we all got together face to face. There really weren’t any big surprises. We pretty much just put a real life face to the people we had come to know and love. And of course, with that you also get more of the freaks and people who are only out to lie or deceive. But for the most part, I met some awesome people. Where are they now? I have no idea. I guess real life got so busy for all of us that our computer time dwindled down. Things changed and we grew apart.
Then of course we have the medium of message boards. If you find a good group of people, they can come to know you and be closer to you than many people in your day to day life., Of course, again there is a level of trust. Are you really getting who you think you are getting? For the most part, yes. There have been many times in my life over the past few years that I have been supported and loved by friends that I have never even met face to face. When Little Diva was in the hospital, not a day went by that I didn’t receive phone calls, cards or emails checking up on her and on me. It is real. It doesn’t matter if we met in person or not. We “know” each other. Sometimes we don’t talk for a long time, sometimes everyday. It doesn’t matter. We are real friends.
So I stared to ponder and wonder…
….if you turn off your computer, are they out of your life? I mean, if you didn’t want to face someone or you did not want to deal with an issue, do you just turn off your computer and then, over time, they disappear from your life? Is it that easy?
What about when you get hurt by one of these people? If something happens there, or you have an argument or misunderstanding, should you be able to just turn off your computer and walk away? Is that the equivalent of turning your back on a friend in your day to day life or is it just “arguing online style”? Is it that easy to just ignore someone you really care about? Or is it just an easier way to handle issues you don’t want to confront? Is the hurt supposed to be less if it is “just an online friend” rather than someone you have to have contact with face to face on a daily basis? Is the hurt lessened because you don’t have to confront them? Or do you handle it like you would any person in your life…upfront and with intent to resolve the issue? I mean, if you have a fight with your next door neighbor, they are still going to be there everyday. If you have a fight with someone 700 miles away, you can just say “too bad” and turn off your computer. Or can you?
I am not pondering these things because I am in this situation. Last night, I just really started to think about the people in my life that I have met online. Some of them I know I will be friends with until I am old and senile. Some of them I know were in my life for just a season. To teach me something and move me to a different place in my life. And then there are people who I come across for the briefest of times, and yet, my life is forever altered by them. Are any of them better for me or more “real”? I don’t think so. They are just different.
I’m not sure I am really going anywhere with this. I guess I’m just in a contemplative mood. I’ve been really excited about the new friends I have made here. Amazed at how much in common I have with some people who I may never meet face to face, but can totally relate to day to day. And then there are those people whom I have nothing whatsoever in common with but they challenge me and impress me and make me a better person by learning from them. Meeting new people and starting new things makes me just wonder about the people I used to be excited about. The people I used to talk to daily. Makes me wonder what happened. I guess all that matters is that even if the relationship evolves into a different phase, the real friendships behind them will never die…even when they change.