I’ve been ‘online’ since approximately 2002 – probably a even earlier. Firstly just browsing websites, totally in awe at what information was there for me to soak up, but then I started dipping my toe into forums and newsgroups. And when you become a regular user of these online discussion groups you make acquaintances. The more time you spend on line, the more these people become like friends. The notion of friendships with someone I had never met wasn’t new to me. I’d had penpals during my school years and both my husband and I were/are CB radio (and later ham radio) users. There’s something you didn’t know about me, huh?
It stands to reason that the more time you spend reading and posting in these groups that proper friendships form. Friendships that last a lot longer than even the forum lasts in many cases. I have friends on my speed dial that I met on the original 80s Nostalgia forum, I still meet with people I know from a parenting forum and then my progression to blogging has brought me connections that are among my closest friends now. I don’t need to name them, they know who they are.
Has social media moved this on a bit more? Are our forums the Facebook groups that we frequent? Do we have Twitter lists of favourite tweeters instead of news groups? Now that social media is becoming a more common way of communication and associating with friends (and beyond) there are also the random connections you make too; people who touch your life just by a small gesture. I am a great believer in the “pay it forward” ethos. I don’t want recognition for the good deeds I do but it’s always nice to pass on that kindness (and also have a few favours in reserve for when you need them).
Here’s a poem that has remained a favourite of mine first read it approximately six years ago. It’s called Friends without Faces and is by Thomas Teague.
We sit and we type, and we stare at our screens,
We all have to wonder, what this possibly means.
With our mouse we roam, through the rooms in a maze,
Looking for something or someone, as we sit in a daze.
We chat with each other, we type all our woes,
Small groups we do form, and gang up on our foes.
We wait for somebody, to type out our name,
We want recognition, but it is always the same.
We give kisses and hugs, and sometimes flirt,
In IMs we chat deeply, and reveal why we hurt.
We do form friendships – but – why we don’t know,
But some of these friendships, will flourish and grow.
Why is it on screen, we can be so bold,
Telling our secrets, that have never been told.
Why is it we share, the thoughts in our mind,
With those we can’t see, as though we were blind.
The answer is simple, it is as clear as a bell.
We all have our problems, and need someone to tell.
We can’t tell “real” people, but tell someone we must,
So we turn to the ‘puter, and to those we can trust.
Even though it is crazy, the truth still remains,
They are Friends Without Faces, and odd little names.
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