I have been giving this a lot of thought ever since I started getting readers/commenters who, more often than not, became friends:
Why do the relationships I have forged online with people I have never met often feel a lot more authentic, real and immediate than those in real life?
This was what Wicked Shawn and I talked about yesterday when we met for the first time.
Me: We have just met. Why do I feel so close to you already?
Shawn: But honey (in her sweet sweet Kentucky twang. *melting*) we have known each other for a long time!
She’s right of course.
Just because we communicate by words, over the Internet, it does not make the connections any less valid. People used to have pen pals. Did they feel embarrassed when they told their family and friends about their pen pals? Did they worry about being mocked when they traveled to meet their pen pals in real life?
In fact, y’all know me, what I really think, what I value, my fears, my aspirations, and yes, my neurosis, a lot better than 99% of the people I know in real life. You may not know the names of my husband and children, you may not know where I live or what my house looks like, but you know the “real” me. I am not saying that in my “physical” life I am walking around faking or pretending. My existence here as words in the Interwebs is the essence of my being. Stripped of all adornments.
Well, I am going to contradict myself: sometimes when I think about this whole thing, I see this as my essence being digitized and so I am seeing all of us running around like Tron… So maybe not stripped of ALL adornments because you know, we’d be all carrying a flying disc…
Here, I am not so and so’s wife. So and so’s mother. Weird Asian lady who lives next door. My odd co-worker I have to put up with. The woman who works for/with me. The person who could not pronounce “Doug” (Thank you all!). The person who also apparently cannot pronounce “Don/Dawn” but somehow can “Shawn”. etc. etc.
You get to know me before your judgement/impression/evaluation/or whatever it is that people do when they meet a person of me is influenced by any visual or audio cues.
And this is why when we finally met (and hopefully meet) each other, after the first 30 seconds of awkwardness, we are going to behave as if we have known each other, like, forever.
I just want to thank each and every one of you that has ever visited, commented or emailed me; you have contributed to my improved mental health and self-esteem. The therapy sessions are working, and they are free! Thank you for letting me mooch off of you… Sometimes when life gets me down, I think to myself, “Hey there are people who actually think I am fucking awesome!”
Case in point: Attending conferences by myself is one of my worst fears. Today I had to do so for work. First I was afraid / I was petrified/ But then something clicked: I remembered my “secret identity” as the coolest awesome ass-kicking hot babe that you somehow led me to believe. (Fine. So what if I made the avatar myself? You are a bunch of enablers a girl can ever ask for!) So I behaved as one.
I carry with me your blind faith in me like a protective shield as I go about my daily life.
happy birthday, e. e. cummings.
Disclaimer: I look nothing like the avatar I made.