Saturday, January 17, 2009
"Is this one of your computer friends, or a real one?" That's often what my mom will ask when I am relating a story about somebody. She comes from a generation that only envisioned in its wildest dreams the miracle that is the internet. I met the love of my life online. I found my first success as both a writer and critic online. I have many friends online, most of whom I have never met in person. But it wasn't that long ago the idea might have seemed pretty strange to me, as well.
The internet was just coming to life as I graduated from high school and headed out into the world. A few people had something called Prodigy. Some people later got Compuserve. Then came AOL. Baby steps. This thing called "the internet" or "online" was only for a few. Today I only know a handful of people without internet access, and these few often have to visit a friend or library to survive in a wired world. Tax forms, information once readily available in business lobbies and banks is no longer printed out in cheery, glossy tri-folds. "You can get that online at wwww.this-site.com."
My dad still asks me, now and then, to find something online for him. Or he'll say "can you get that on your machine?" I think Papa is under the impression that I do something miraculous to get him the CD he can't find (on ebay), or the information he needs (google). If he knew how simple and second-nature this is to all of us he'd stop bragging at the donut shop about how clever I am.
I blogged about one of my very good online friends yesterday. She happens to be a Fictionista-- Gwen Hayes. You can read that gushingly joyful post here. Gwen is somebody I haven't yet met but can't wait to hug in person. I've been super-lucky enough to very briefly meet Fictionistas Kristen and Mel. I won't rest until I have hugged each of them at least once. Not by way of a monitor, either. And theRomance Divas are a few thousand of my best friends. Any opportunity to hug some diva will not be missed.
There are my buddies at another online site, The Sceptic's Tank, that I've known since... well, Prodigy. We were among the first nerds to take over the wires. I worked with a few of those dorks at-- for real!!-- the FBI. It was back when the internet was so new it scared everyone.
So how many special people are trapped inside your computer? Any good love stories? Any great friendships?