snapshots of an idle mind

March 22, 2006

imaginary friends

Filed under: Uncategorized — sassinak @ 8:22 am

.
so i don’t know how long y’all have been on the internet but i am willing to believe that if i haven’t been around the longest then i’m at least in the running. i’m pretty sure i first got online in some form or another around ninety-three and have been relatively constant since then.

i remember that moment you know, the first time i tried real time chat. i couldn’t fucking believe it, in fact i thought it might just be the coolest thing ever. i mean really can you imagine? REAL TIME talking with people all over the world!

sure you had to wait for the letters to form on the screen and
sure there weren’t any pictures and
sure there were only forty irc channels in the world and
sure you had to hide your identity as the only online female for a hundred miles and
sure the web didn’t exist (but mosaic did) and
sure you could only do one thing at once and
sure freenets were limited but they were free and
sure there weren’t any good cat pictures and
sure bbses were way more fun (tradewars!) and
so on…

but still

it was transformatory. real time talking with anyone in the world at any time of the day or night.

and i’ve never for a second stopped thinking that that was cool. it’s still my favourite thing about the net and will probably remain so until i can click a button and watch any episode of any show for a buck or so.

consequently i’ve met a lot of people online.

in fact of the last four men i’ve dated seriously i met three of them in irc channels. the fourth picked me up on a ski hill and got me to marry him, but that’s a whole ‘nother story. oh and i met another man while ski patrolling.

anyway, i’ve made a lot of friends on the internet, some i’ve met and some i haven’t and i defy anyone to tell me that the ones i’ve met are somehow more meaningful or better (although it was nice to hug them.) i’ve had at least a few online friends for a decade now.

a decade.

anything that you can do in real life can be done on the internet and almost always the pace is accelerated and the emotions are more raw. there is a safety to sitting in a chair in your own home and looking at your own monitor. you know that the people you are speaking with are real and all but somehow because of that distance (even if they’re just down the street) you will somehow let your guard down further.

this is probably why the internet is the great white hope for the quirkyalones of this world who wish to be couple-y.

aside:
are you a quirkyalone?
=====================================
my score: How quirkyalone are you?
Your score was 104. Very quirkyalone:
Relatives may give you quizzical looks, and so may friends, but you know in your heart of hearts that you are following your inner voice. Though you may not be romancing a single person, you are romancing the world. Celebrate your freedom on National Quirkyalone Day, February 14th!}

[i also say yes to eight or nine of the ten ‘additional signs’ but i am ridiculously good at tests… :)]
=====================================

aside two: thanks for the book princess valium, i’ve wanted it since before i knew she was writing it!
[end asides]

okay the point is that i’ve met as many of the people in my life online as off and that most of my friends are people who are comfortable communicating on the internet. i’m not good with phones and i’m pretty bad with answering voice mail (well i kind of suck at email too these days) but if you’re online we will stay in touch if we wish to.

and still and all? it doesn’t make the meeting online friends thing any easier.

some thirteen years later i’m still nervous when i meet people that are my online friends. the nerves fade a lot more quickly now and it tends to be easier to start talking out loud but it’s weird.

i’ve seen geeks go to meetings and hook themselves into irc or im so they could chat with EACH OTHER while sitting at the SAME TABLE!

and think i was weird for suggesting they try speaking with each other using their voices.

okay i’m weird but what does that have to do with the point at hand?

i laugh a little when i think about this online dating phenomena. i had my first ‘online date’ in like nineteen ninety four but we didn’t have lavalife or okcupid we had chat and mutual friends. it was just like meetings someone at a party only you had to meet them again to see what they looked like.

you didn’t have pictures to go on. no video, no webcams.

there wasn’t a handy web page or blog somewhere where they talked about themselves (although i did my first one of those in ninety five or so. fuck i’m old.) and there was no google to ferret out their cat’s name or their real age.

you had to just believe them. and learn about them the ‘old fashioned’ way.

but on the internet.

i’ll never forget meeting Z. and i met him in an irc channel and admired his entrance. there was flourish.

or D… damm he was so cute with the not realising i said yes when he asked me out. [D: so when are we going to go out? sass: i don’t know you haven’t asked me yet. – steps on chairlift – he said it took him three days to realise that i hadn’t said no – lol]

one online and one on snow but both memorable and real.

i’ve lost count of the number of times a friend has picked up the pieces or shared their sorrow or asked for advice or told me about their day or asked after my cats…

i’ve laughed and cried and had my heart lifted and broken and mended again. i’ve felt spark and been moved and had my life changed forever.

i don’t understand why people talk about the internet as though the things that happen there aren’t real.

just how is it exactly that they aren’t real?

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34 Comments »

  1. First comment!! Damn its been a while. Me, I’m new to this whole internet friends thing and it probably wouldn’t have happened if my marriage didn’t open up and then flush down the tubes. I really like it though. I see no reason why I cannot consider these people my friends though I’ve never met them. Besides. Technically speaking, Sass, you’re an internet met friend as well :) Cheers.

    BTW wanna climb tonight?

    Comment by green_hedonist — March 22, 2006 @ 9:18 am | Reply

  2. please!?

    Comment by green_hedonist — March 22, 2006 @ 9:19 am | Reply

  3. God bless the internets. :)

    Comment by Matt Vella — March 22, 2006 @ 9:45 am | Reply

  4. woohoo i’m not commentor 23!

    I think the only people who don’t see them as ‘real’ are those who have never experienced it…

    Comment by debambam — March 22, 2006 @ 10:01 am | Reply

  5. I got 110 on the test. And I totally agree about the internet. It’s a great way to meet people and make friends in far away places :)

    Comment by Amber — March 22, 2006 @ 10:21 am | Reply

  6. I had to read a study done in my communications class about how at first they feared the internet would further lack people’s real communication skills but it actually has done the opposite since people from all over the world can to each other at any given time. It has really opened up the channels of knowledge, travel, and communication making it easier and faster for everyone.

    We read a whole chapter on it. :)

    Comment by HuneeB — March 22, 2006 @ 10:53 am | Reply

  7. The following is a stream of consciousness blub. I hope it makes sense.

    Not unreal. Synthetic.
    Much like nylon’s. They’re real. But I’m sure that they took time to understand as a textile when they first hit market.

    If reality is hemp, than the net is nylon. In terms of climbing rope, give me nylon anytime. It’s lighter, stronger, and faster through a belay and ages much better.

    Hemp while an excellent fiber has the same dubious distinction as the rest of the “real” reality. That is to say that time and space hold much more sway over it. It has a life span. Decay takes it like it takes everything real.

    If then the main difference between reality and virtual reality is the lack of time, space and decay, one could argue that it is a much finer reality than the present one. Unfortunatly, until some programer figures out a way to download all of my memory, language and cultural baggage into discernable and ever changing and growing code, I will have to deal with the time and decay.

    Comment by Light Strikes A Deal — March 22, 2006 @ 12:48 pm | Reply

  8. hubris: congratulations dude! i love that first comment is something we all try to get on each other’s blogs.

    i think you’re right that you would never have ended up with internet friends if your marriage hadn’t died. that’s okay though, we really like you too.

    technically i’m an internet met friend but a) we were introduced and b) our entire communication pre-meeting involved arranging the meeting. so it’ s asort of :)

    i work til 8:30…?

    matt: fuckin’ right!

    deb: hee, nope, number four. or three depending on how you count.

    and i think you’re utterly right. but i know too there are sharks who take advantage of that…

    amber: hee, i like romantic comedies, i think that lowered my score!

    you’ve been online a while too?

    Comment by sassinak — March 22, 2006 @ 1:34 pm | Reply

  9. huneeB: that sounds like a pretty interesting study actually. when i was taking communications the professor forced us to hand in an essay via email and almost the whole class had to go to the computer lab and get an account. and that was only 1992. funny huh?

    it has wrecked the grammar and spelling of the english language in a lot of ways though…

    lsd: only if you mean blurb and not blub… :)

    hunh synthetic. that is an interesting word. as a textile you’re right about nylon, but as nylons? women adopted them in SECONDS! they were so much better than what came before.

    come to think of it that’s true of email vs. faxes or letters in a lot of ways too.

    my ex said that if he could download himself into a computer that he would do it in a second. he didn’t even want one more fuck/sushi dinner/toke/whatever he just wanted to go.

    time and decay makes us what we are i think…

    Comment by sassinak — March 22, 2006 @ 1:48 pm | Reply

  10. I’m so with you on this. I love my on-line friends as much as any of my other friends. I don’t understand how people can feel…oh, they’re someone from on-line. Yeah? So? They’re still people, expressing their feelings and sharing their life.
    Like you, for example. I feel like we’re new friends, getting to know each other. I’m really enjoying getting to know you.
    I’m off to take the test now…

    Comment by kathi — March 22, 2006 @ 3:19 pm | Reply

  11. I got a 79, but where did you find out what that means??

    Comment by kathi — March 22, 2006 @ 3:23 pm | Reply

  12. I fell in love with someone I met online…erm…twice…sure we talked on the phone and sent pics and all that but even just talking to someone is real..well, as long as they are real… and what I mean is that while the conversation is real, some people are not themselves, and that’s where problems arise.

    But yes I believe things that happen online are real. I’m with you.

    But I also wish that people didn’t lie. But that’s just a wish… and this is not utopia, so it won’t happen. It is nothing but a chimera.

    Ahhhhh. Damn. :(

    But yes…real.

    -N

    Comment by Natalia — March 22, 2006 @ 4:37 pm | Reply

  13. kathi: i do too but i know a lot of people that just don’t take them as seriously and i fully don’t understand it. just don’t.

    i feel the exact same way about you. oh and go read the second last huneeb comment in my last post, she said nice things about you.

    uh mine just told me with my results…

    nat: me too :) and once we had the entire relationship and split up before we ever met.

    it’s always real if the people participating are real, it’s the liars that make it suck.

    ahhh people not lying… lovely imagination you have my dear :)

    Comment by sassinak — March 22, 2006 @ 5:22 pm | Reply

  14. *pinch’s self*

    ouch!

    I am real :)

    (just had to check)

    I completely understand your point of some people not really taking internet friends seriously; I think that you can really tell sometimes what type of person they are, that is one reason that I sometimes don’t get to blog on yours right away b/c I really do want to be able to read through your post and put the time into a thoughful reply. It matters to me.

    Comment by HuneeB — March 22, 2006 @ 7:35 pm | Reply

  15. Wow. Thanks for sending me back to read what huneeb commented about me. Just blows me away, thanks.
    And, thanks huneeb. I don’t know what you read to think so kindly of me, are you sure it was me? Can’t tell you how much I appreciated your kind words, though. Truly.

    Comment by kathi — March 22, 2006 @ 8:36 pm | Reply

  16. i agree with you totally.

    what’s to say face to face time makes things more meaningful or more worthwhile?

    Comment by da buttah — March 22, 2006 @ 8:39 pm | Reply

  17. Your score was 70. Somewhat quirkyalone (otherwise known as quirkytogether):
    You are probably part of a mysterious group of people, the quirkytogethers. You share many of our quirky qualities, but you manage to find yourself, on a regular basis, in a coupled situation.

    interesting. never saw that one coming

    Comment by da buttah — March 22, 2006 @ 8:47 pm | Reply

  18. huneeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee: oh don’t be pinching yourself. that shit hurts.

    good to know you’re real though.

    i really appreciate the thoughtfulness that people put into the comments here. i often feel like my comments aren’t nearly up to snuff when i visit other people’s blogs. i’m just awed at the quality and depth of the regulars here… and i love that i’ve attracted such a great group to this little corner of blogger.

    i think every relationship that i have is real whether i’ve smelled you or not. but when it comes to romance? the smelling is key.

    thank you hb.

    kathi: you’re welcome, i would have wanted to read such things so i figured that you would too. i know just how you feel, i love that people feel such things toward me but it blows me away and stuns me everytime.

    i think you told her kathi :)

    elle: thank you.

    i don’t know, i know there are a lot of times that i’ve really wanted to go home and blog or irc or email because that would have been more rewarding or fun. the opposite applies as well mind you.

    you got 70? that surprises me a little. what about the additional clues, did any of them apply to you?

    i would have to say i didn’t see that one coming either….

    Comment by sassinak — March 22, 2006 @ 9:37 pm | Reply

  19. The web seems like just another medium to communicate. Nothing unreal about it. Sometimes surreal, but not unreal.

    I wonder if the same sorts of complaints were made when the telephone was first introduced? It seems like complaining about new stuff is the downside to our inventive and progressive age.

    Comment by othercat — March 22, 2006 @ 9:53 pm | Reply

  20. I got the same little blurby info as elle, but with a score of 60. Still somewhat quirkyalone.

    I totally agree that online doesn’t mean not real. The problem is people who act like it’s not real so they figure it’s ok to mess with people and create these extravagant online personas that are nowhere near the person they are in real life. Those are the people that need professional help.

    Comment by JMai — March 22, 2006 @ 10:19 pm | Reply

  21. They are as real as you want them to be. Seriously, it’s just like in real life. How many times in the real world have you said, “I know them, but I wouldn’t say we’re ‘friends,’ exactly”? But then, there are other people in your life whom you hardly know…but feel like a friend. I think it’s the same deal in cyberspace.

    Also, I scored 100 on that test. Not sure how I feel about that.
    ——————————-
    How quirkyalone are you?
    Your score was 100. Very quirkyalone:
    Relatives may give you quizzical looks, and so may friends, but you know in your heart of hearts that you are following your inner voice. Though you may not be romancing a single person, you are romancing the world. Celebrate your freedom on National Quirkyalone Day, February 14th!

    Comment by I Am Scorpionic — March 22, 2006 @ 11:20 pm | Reply

  22. Not shockingly, I got 110 on the quirkyalone test. I am so next in line for that book.

    I had this whole treatise on internet friends going, but then I realized I was totally going off-topic so I killed it. Curses! Polypharmacy strikes again.

    Comment by Princess Valium — March 22, 2006 @ 11:23 pm | Reply

  23. Online IS real. It’s just as you said… all the emotions are still felt and filtered vividly through type. Sometimes even more so since you cannot really verbose in tone correctly at people without some sort of hmm, say, human and careful way of getting your point across.

    I feel very real everyday, and all of my friends that I wish to actually hold dear to my inner heart are here on the net. I just get beat up the most because I cannot extend and touch these people, to tell them I care and that I;m here even when I’m in the shadows…

    That feeling sucks. And it’s very real.

    And no, you’re not old! I remember the ‘net’ of 1995!! Isn’t that the one Al Gore invented?!?!?!?

    LOL! Smooches!

    Comment by Everything nice — March 22, 2006 @ 11:24 pm | Reply

  24. othercat: surreal for sure dude.

    you know i bet you’re right. i bet scores of people complained that the romance of getting in a rowboat and crossing a river in order to arrange a dinner date would be lost. personally i’m glad to be out of the rowboat.

    :)

    JM: i wonder what the cutoff is. like if anyone gets normal. maybe i’ll go try it in all sorts of variations.

    you’re right that people who are assholes suck but i agree with scorp that it’s pretty much the same offline as on. you’re either real or you aren’t and that’s the same online as off.

    it is easier to fake online though.

    scorp: i beat you by 4 on that test. and then i went back and did it again with all the choices that were ‘more romantic’ that i kinda thought about and got 91. seems i’m in the club regardless :)

    i feel that it’s accurate

    PV: YAY you claimed your nick!

    you are so next in line for this book and then i have a couple more people to lend it to. i’m not quite done it yet :)

    off topic ? what the fuck is a topic? talk about what you want. hell write a blog entry and i’ll post it. hell, post it yourself! hell talk in my comments for pages on end. it’s all good.

    yay for polypharmacy!

    bubbles: i think it’s often more vivid. it’s definetely deeper faster because there are fewer masks.

    i would say that at least half of my friends are people that i have not met in person as of yet. that in no way makes them less of a friend. one of these days i’m going to crash one of your vegas trips you know :)

    you touch the ones who are willing to be touched em… the rest have to find their own way *huggs*

    i remember that al gore guy. didn’t his wife tip cows or something?
    :)

    Comment by sassinak — March 23, 2006 @ 12:13 am | Reply

  25. wow. i’ve read a bit about quirkyalones in the past, but never really considered myself a TRUE quirkyalone…
    i scored 102. and almost all of those extra diagnostic signs apply to me…!
    interesting. i always seem to learn something here, sass…!

    Comment by terry — March 23, 2006 @ 1:44 pm | Reply

  26. i didn’t really consider myself a true one either and then i read the book.

    yeah.

    i’m fully in the club.

    i’m glad you learn things here, it’s part of why i blog. weird isn’t it to be in that club?

    Comment by sassinak — March 23, 2006 @ 4:26 pm | Reply

  27. makes me so happy to have found your blog! :)

    Comment by terry — March 23, 2006 @ 4:57 pm | Reply

  28. PS I think I missed all the “extra signs” on that quirkyalone test. Did you only get them if you scored a certain number or higher?

    Comment by JMai — March 23, 2006 @ 8:45 pm | Reply

  29. terry: i’m glad you made it here too!!! :)

    jmai: oh there’s a link on the left of the quiz page says “additional diagnostic signs”

    that’s where they are :)

    Comment by sassinak — March 24, 2006 @ 12:23 am | Reply

  30. i first used the internet almost 11yrs back, which works out to be 2yrs later than you, sass. and yeah, the people online are as real as you find ’em on the streets.

    most of ’em. :)

    Comment by stoned.nerd — March 24, 2006 @ 9:12 am | Reply

  31. Brilliant! :)

    Comment by castufari — March 24, 2006 @ 10:19 am | Reply

  32. nerd: in retrospect i think it was actually 92. i don’t really count that teacher forcing me to email him but technically… i didn’t get into it for about six more months though…

    that’s true of the people on the streets too isn’t it? most of em are real but there’s assholes everywhere.

    cast: thanks!

    Comment by sassinak — March 24, 2006 @ 12:28 pm | Reply

  33. If BBS’s count then I’ve got you beat by a couple of years, but then I’ve been a nerd since day one, Until recently I havent posted much anywhere but bbs’s and online forums, most of which have long gone the way of the dinosaurs.

    In the beginning it seemed to me that you couldnt trust a single online user, the years of hacking attempts, DDOS attacks and other fun made me a bit paranoid.

    These days with the onset of blogging and the sheer number of internet users that has changed significantly. People put their hearts out unabashedly into the digital realm, and that honesty is changing the internet for the better. Sure there are plenty of idiots and a**holes out there, I may even be one of them on occasion, but by and large the people you meet are relatively decent.

    Comment by joe — March 24, 2006 @ 5:32 pm | Reply

  34. joe: fuckin’ a bbses count. i still miss paging the sysop on floppies and chatting all night. good times.

    but i sorta hit freenet which led me to bbses which got me on the net. all pretty fast.

    this blog thing is new to me but i find i’m a natural. makes sense since i used to use newsgroups when they were still useable.

    i’m so much more paranoid than the folks who came after me. if you search my real name almost nothing comes up. and nothing recent. i occasionally search it to make sure… but that vigilance is starting to slip.

    i like the way the internet is going, now to get rid of spam and pornspam :)

    and yes i agree entirely about the folks you meet online.

    Comment by sassinak — March 25, 2006 @ 2:18 am | Reply


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