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Saturday, March 08, 2014

No Matter How Long It Takes, No Matter How Far, I Will Find You

Rummaging through a desk drawer the other day, I came across an old notecard with someone's AOL email address on it.  Also included was their Instant Messenger name.  I had to smile.  I don't think I've been on AOL Instant Messenger since 2004, and that was when I was using it to answer questions posed by my sophomores regarding their research papers.  I was Very Progressive, according to my assistant principal then, and Very Cool, according to my sophomores.  In all actuality, I was Very Lazy.  It beat staying after school and coming in early before school, and I could tackle several people at the same time, all from the comfort of my rolly chair in my own home.

AOL was way more jazzy than the platform  I used in the earlier days of my online life.  Do any of you remember Prodigy?  I used to get online via dial-up and spend hours on Prodigy in an online community devoted to the film The Last of the Mohicans and its star, Daniel Day-Lewis.  There, I found a wealth of knowledge about all of the film's stars, locations, and all kinds of stuff. I got to be a Regular there, and along with a group of thirty or so people, we posted often.  No bit of information or detail was too arcane, especially if it was about DD-L or if it was a mistake in the film.  We dissected and discussed, swooned and snickered.  Pretty soon, we split into two factions, the Westerners and the Easterners.  Talk became more lively and more about each other than the film.  Some of the posters knew each other, and some lived close enough that they arranged meet-ups.  There was even talk of an all-out convention for each faction.  Which leads me to today's question:

Have you ever made a friend online first and only afterward met her in person?  How did you finally meet?

The short answer is, heavens yes, all the time;  I just go where they are and say hello.  The longer answer begins with meeting some of the fans I met on Prodigy.  Because I had a Real Job which cut horribly into my Free Time, I couldn't attend the Eastern convention.  Later, however, another one was planned in New York.  We would tour actual sites of the French and Indian War, meet up with two extras from the film who were also Prodigy posters, and visit a fort.  I was the last one to fly in, and I was met at the airport by several of the women who I had gotten to know by name online, but who I had never seen.  It didn't matter. Once we introduced ourselves, we merely picked up where we had left off online; physically meeting was nothing more than a formality.  That was about twenty years ago, and it was the day I met Ann.

After that, we had several other mini-conventions in different locales.  One memorable one was in Michigan, at a friend's lake house on Silver Lake.  At that one, Ann paid for a copy of the film to be shown at a theater in a nearby town.  We saw it twice, with a break for lunch.

Since then, I've met bloggers, too.  I drove to Virginia to spend time with Shirley, of glutenfreeeasily, and Veronica of the hibernating CompostStudios.  And just last month, during my stay with Mikey in San Francisco, I was able to spend the day with Julie of Thinking About.  Again, physically meeting was merely a formality.  We've been friends for years!  Honestly, what does it matter what any of us looks like?  Unless one of us is looking for someone to model our latest fashions, who cares?

My mother--and probably a few others in my family--worry each time I do this, go and meet "a stranger", as they call it.  What if? is the first phrase out of her mouth.  She forgets that I've already gotten to know this person.  We've talked; I've read her life in her own words.  I know her.

Friends have been made with less.

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11 comments:

  1. Ha! That cartoon made me laugh.

    I have had the wonderful privilege of meeting six online friends in real life.

    As I mentioned earlier, meeting Julie and her posse consisting of her husband and another internet friend Dot, was the first time I had ever met people in real life that I'd known online. It was lovely, they were all just as wonderful as their online personas. That was up in NoCal, and I was even able to see Julie (again!) and another internet friend when they came down here to SoCal.

    There was only one person who disappointed me greatly when I met her, and unfortunately we had scheduled the whole day to spend at the beach with our kids, and that turned out to be kind of a flop. She was much different than she was online, and even though we were great "friends" in the comment section, it did not translate at all in real life.

    Why I was shocked when a conservative Republican and my liberal self did not get along, I don't know.



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  2. Nance, I was reading along and agreeing and then totally surprised to see the mention of your visit to see me and Veronica. LOL But what a great time that was! Hope we get to do it again in the near future. :-)

    I've met dozens of folks "in real life" after becoming friends online. It's almost always exactly as you say ... simply reconnecting with friends face to face.

    I've only had a few disappointing experiences. They weren't dangerous individuals or anything like that. In one case, I had lunch with an online friend and realized very quickly that she was a person whose life had way too much drama (tv worthy drama) and she both fed it and thrived on it. I nodded and smiled politely, but was thinking "nut job, nut job," and knew I'd never interact with her again. Two others turned out to be folks who were all about themselves and used people for their own benefit. I just didn't pick up on that earlier (and, incidentally, they're still manipulating folks). There was no harm done, but I was very disappointed.

    The good and strong relationships that I've made otherwise though are really cherished ones. Many of these individuals are better friends than so many other friends I've known for decades. Part of it is having very specific common ground (like with you and your LotM/DD-L fan friends) and I believe part of it is all the written (even if electronic) communications that transpire before you get together. I always say these online relationships that are established through chats, message boards, blogs, etc. are much like the modern form of old school pen pal communication. The written words exchanged are really how you get to "know" these folks so well.

    Great post, Nance! Now I need to catch up with all your posts for March. I'm writing about muffins every day for March, but your commitment is far more challenging AND far more interesting as well! Btw, the bunnies are funny!

    Shirley

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  3. I've met a few bloggy friends in real life....YOU, most recently. Prior to that, Simon and his wife Paola, whom I met via Veronica's blog. Gina, obviously, and another friend, Tracy.

    All have been exactly as they seemed online, so I'm with you, no strangers here.

    I'd love to meet Veronica someday. And Ally.

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  4. J--Isn't it fun? Is Ally in Ohio? You know I am. Come on over! The Bug is too. We can centrally locate someplace in the state and have a good time.

    Shirley--I'm surprised you were surprised. How did you not see that coming? LOL.

    Your point about pen pals is a great one, and so true. I think that people who are writing decent blogs do tend to be meditative when they write their posts. They're honest and themselves.

    Secondly, I think the point you made about common interest is valid, too. That is another piece of exposition that's done already, too. By the time you meet in person, all the Getting To Know You is over with. It's like eHarmony and Match.com!

    Gina--Maybe the added tension of parenting styles made it tough, too. Not to discount The Politics, which would have made it tough enough. I think if you and I ever met, it would be a good time. We're practically The Same Person. Ha! ( I wore braids for the first ten years of my life. I would have killed for curly ponytails, but I had stick-straight hair.)

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  5. Funnily enough, I don't know anyone in real life that I know from blogs, or anywhere else online. I read a very few select blogs and most of them are from people not in southern California. I don't really comment on any other blogs, as I mostly lurk and never really feel compelled to say anything. I like your blog, since you and all the other commenters seem like interesting and thoughtful people with actual working brains. I enjoy reading what everyone says and putting in my two cents. I think a cocktail party of everyone here would be a lot of fun. The next time anyone is in Socal, martinis on me!

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  6. LaFF--Thank you. I have to agree with you. I have a group of thinking and fascinating commenters here who can speak easily about a great number of topics. A cocktail party of the Dept. chatters would be fantastic. I'd bring the wine and something wonderful to eat, no problem. Thanks for the invite and the first round.

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  7. Hmmm ... have to answer that question in an email.

    A Department get-together would be fabulous. I think a lot of us would get on like a house on fire.

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  8. Ortizzle--Wow. Okay! You are definitely an online friend I long to hang out with in person. I still feel irked that Rick's business trip didn't work out. We were so close!

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  9. Count me in for that cocktail party! Seriously! :-)

    Shirley

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  10. We watched LotM this weekend & I thought of you :)

    We had Prodigy! We thought it was the bomb - for about five minutes...

    The first online friend I met was a woman from my Weight Watchers board. It was... interesting. That was mostly because we both had our significant others with us & they had NO idea what was what. Ha! Since then I've met several blogger friends & it's been a lot of fun.

    But you know, I really struggle with conversation these days. I don't know if it's menopause brain or what, but I'll leave an encounter & wonder "WHY did I say THAT?" It's like being a teenager again. Blerg.

    That said - I am totally up for a DoN gathering! I'll just be the quiet one in the corner :)

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  11. The Bug--How nice! Thank you. I think all of us go through the same thing when we meet someone "new"; we want to make a good impression, we think and speak at the same time instead of just speaking, and that makes for a lot of stumbling. It's nervousness. That's why, if we had a Dept. cocktail party, we'd have drinks to settle us down! Wine, martinis, some nice nibblies...and good talk among friends. You'd NOT be quiet. You'd "join the fray!"

    Shirley--Already done! We wouldn't think otherwise.

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Oh, thank you for joining the fray!

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