They Aren't Imaginary: My Friends

I was talking with a good friend about social media, Facebook, online friends, Internet dating, and this world that’s new to him since he’s become single. He wanted to know if I was feeling that same kind of angst about the foray into uncharted waters in an online world.

The thing is, I don’t feel like social media is a new world for me. I was in a documentary for the Discovery Channel in 1996 about social media when I was pregnant with my son. It was about women who met online through a pregnancy forum. I have friends from that time, friends I met online, who are still an important part of my life today. In fact, that’s where I was this weekend.

I spent the weekend visiting friends I met online. That’s weird to some people, but not to me. They are still real people, people who’ve seen me through intense periods of my life, the birth of my children; depression, death, celebration of joyful moments, and we can pick up right where we left off, even after years, like no time has passed. 

And some of my online friends are newer friends, people I’ve met in the past six years who know me through my blogging or twitter. Again, they’re still real people. If you look at my twitter profile, you’ll see pictures of their avatars in the background. Of those people, you’d probably be shocked at how many I’ve met in person. A lot. I like that connection. I like knowing the people behind the online persona. Because, as I’ve said here many times, what we share online is only a slice of what and who we are—just a glimpse.

As we’ve become more geographically dispersed from the people who matter to us, we’ve found ways to stay connected through social media, but we still crave that physical connection. So, I travel. And, beginning next month, my children and I will embark on our homeschooling adventure of travelling together. First stop, Seattle. Stay tuned. We’re about to go meet the Internet.