Years ago, a woman told me she’d met her husband online. I was judgmental and horrified. Sure that the two of them must be super-nerds, I wondered why she didn’t meet people in bars or at work like normal folks did.
I tried to be relaxed looking, but am pretty sure that rather than displaying a cool and curious resting face, I was showing a shocked “are you stupid?” face.
It’s funny – the things we remember.
I remember being shocked by her admission of having ventured into a scary online dating world. After all, that’s where thieves and crazy people trolled for friends, right?
I can’t remember the woman’s name, where we were, or what year it was, but it was before internet dating was a thing-thing. Back then, online dating was like admitting to getting into a windowless white van for the promise of free candy.
It was definitely before I’d ever considered blogging. I don’t think I’d even heard the word “blogging” back then.
Today, I’m married to a man I met online. He didn’t run away when I told him I wanted to have a baby on our third date.
I didn’t run away when he said that his then 13-year-old daughter was coming to live with us. We were obviously meant to be.
Somewhere along the way, the years turned the internet from being a windowless white van to being a pretty-well accepted Honda.
Respected. Reliable, even.
So when I began writing a memoir about my little boy and feeling like we lived in the “Middle World,” and read that a publisher would rather shave a cat than read another memoir, I thought “Hey! I’ll blog!”
I began blogging mostly to find and help other moms like me. I felt alone thinking “Well, it’s not autism,” while the short bus picked my son up for Preschool Autism Class. Later, I was sure it was autism.
Now, it’s not autism again but that story isn’t the point of this particular post.
This post is about the fact that somewhere between the beginning and later, I found real friends online.
Over dinner, I’d say “So, my friend Jen said that we should ask the doctors about using sensory input for speech therapy!”
“Who?” he said. “Wait, one of your computer friends?”
I’d feel a little embarrassed, because it was true that these friendships existed only online.
Today, he and I both know that computer friends are real friends. Maybe it’s because writers share so much more on their blogs than we’re able to at happy hours or while waiting at the bus stop with kids, shouting “Get your backpack – it’s coming!”
Maybe it’s because Facebook has made the internet familiar.
Whatever the reason, computer friends are real friends.
That’s not to say that there’s not anxiety in meeting them for the first time. I remember the morning of my first blog conference and how at first, I was totally sure that we’d connect in person the way we did online.
Once I got there, and didn’t find a familiar face from online right away, I was sure I’d be the dork who went home too early. I certainly wasn’t as cool as the rest of these writers.
I was worried about my shoes, for F’s sake.
It’s true that IRL (in real life) or in blogging life, that we can walk into a room and feel less-than. I think that’s happened to all of us and the key is remembering that we all feel that way. Like, we walk into a room and feel like all the people are better than we are. Better dressed, more confident, and just better overall.
Some people know what to wear no matter what.
Except you know what? They don’t know what to wear either, and they lay out outfits on a bed and try things on and send photos to friends saying “which makes me look better?”
And we get to the room, with IRL friends or blog friends, and we start talking and we mention how we didn’t know what to wear and they say “ME TOO!”
All of a sudden, we’re no longer alone as weirdo introverts out on a writer’s evening. We see speech bubbles over other people’s heads. Some say “I wish I were tucking my son into bed right now.”
Others say “Why am I here?” “I should have worked out.”
Or, “I suck,” or even, “This isn’t that bad,” and “I liked talking to her, she was nice.”
We find friends.
Which is the point. We find friends when we need to, even in unexpected places. Sometimes, that place is the internet that’s no longer the same as a windowless white van offering free candy.
Today, it’s about sharing stories and lives and mostly transparency because we know that all of this – the connections and the familiarity is mostly always gone much too soon.
This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. This week’s sentence is “Somebody that I met changed…” because Kerry of Her Headache said last week that the people we meet should be a series, and I agreed, knowing that I wrote something totally different from what I’d planned on writing. The same happened this week, too, although I don’t think we’ll do another “we meet” sentence next week because well. Because.