posted on Jul, 31 2009 @ 08:51 AM
I'm not sure if this is a rant or just an observation, probably some of both, but here goes. Be patient it might take me awhile and I may wonder a
bit. Some of this post is based on what I have seen during my years on the internet and some is from personal experience. Which is which may be
obvious but if not don't ask, I'm not telling.
As the internet has exploded with forums of all kinds people are finding more interesting ways to meet and make friends..and not friends. The forums
get people together based on similar interests or wanting to learn and explore new topics. The forums become communities as they grow, with different
areas attracting different groups of members. They 'hang out' in the threads they are most drawn too and in these threads they start to get to know
other members even feeling a bit like 'families'
People communicate in these threads and learn the styles of the other posters. As they develop relationships other forms of contact start, U2U's and
emails to 'talk' off the boards and then perhaps instant messaging with MSN, AIM or any number of other similar systems. The instant messaging is
more 'real' as the conversation flows as a face to face chat would. It is often easy to get to know someone this way as it is easier, at least for
me, in the beginning to talk openly when you don't have to look into the face, eyes of the other person.
These chats can be very telling as time passes. Sometimes the differences become obvious and the friendship fades away and sometimes a real connection
is made and fast friendships are formed. Of course caution is required in these initial stages. Is this other person who they say they are? We have
all heard internet horror stories on the news and from friends. Most I know have been lucky enough to avoid these disasters.
In my experience I have made many great friends, I have met a lot in person with wonderful success and some I have met only to have the contact fade
a bit due to distance and time zones. There are friends I will never meet but the relationships are still dear to me as we share our daily lives via
the forums we met on, skype, or other types of instant messaging. Christmas cards are exchanged, presents shared and life long contacts are sure to be
sustained. Like a lot of friends in real life, daily contact isn't needed and when we talk it is like we have never stopped.
As in any real life relationship these friendships can go bad in various ways. Misunderstandings can happen since it is sometimes hard to interpret
someones true intentions when you can't hear the inflection of their voice or see the expression on someones face. Most computers have cameras on
them now but for the most part these aren't used in my experience. Disagreements can take longer to 'fix' my merely typing to one another, and
sometimes there is no mending.
Besides girl friends (I am a woman just for reference) more intimate relationships can be formed over the internet. These often start with casual chat
in the forum and progress to emails etc or instant messaging. Common interests keep things moving along and flirting, and innuendo work it's way into
the conversations. There are instances when this goes 'further' often to the surprise to one or both people. There are countless times these have
become permanent relationships, I am sure we all know some. How those first person to person contacts fair may be awkward or the connection is just
solidified by the face to face meeting.
We have all heard of stories of 'cyber sex' and how exciting it can be. Playing over the internet with no direct contact and the ability to walk
away without ever meeting. How these play out I would think would be like any other cyber relationship, sometimes they work sometimes they don't.
Again without the eye contact would it not be easier to 'go your own way'. Without the eye contact would it not be easier to start up a playful
relationship to begin with? Real life ties don't get in the way if the frolic is all about fun? No permanency wanted or needed.
All these different encounters, I am sure I am missing some, can be wonderful and meaningful and as in any '3D' friendship how it progresses or
ends takes two. The words on the screen can be read one way by one and a different way by the other. Explanations may be necessary as well. What some
see as mean spirited may not be and as in real life it takes time to learn each others 'ways'.
Regardless of the type of friends we have all made on the internet, care is needed and thoughtfulness and tact are required. I know I have been
misunderstood quite a few times by various on line friends. On lines relationships are tricky at best and since started over the air waves and across
oceans and borders, development is not as with day to day friends.
One of my favorite things about on line friends is there is no need to clean the house or perhaps you are having a bad hair day, so what. If you
don't feel like talking you can pretend you aren't around, set the messenger on 'away', forget to check your email or just log off.
Anyway that is how I see it and have seen it. I would be interested in your thoughts on the subject. How has that blurry line of real life and the
internet played out in your life? What do you do when you find out that great friend you have made lives thousands of miles away or perhaps isn't who
you thought they were? Have you met up with any online friends? Was it a success... I know for a fact it can be very rewarding and not so rewarding...
as is life... the blurry line just gets blurrier as the internet plays a bigger part in all our lives.