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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thoughts on Online Friends


Are you tired of hearing about my trip to Texas yet? Don't worry, I'm finally almost out of Texas stories. Very soon, I'll start with posts about visiting our family up north! You're welcome!

While in Texas, I finally "met" a couple of my online friends. The first I've known for five years. We met in an internet chatroom. Not THAT kind of chatroom. Geesh. The second is someone I've met through this blog and I've known now for a couple of years. Some of Joe's family thought that was a little weird, that I considered them friends even though we had never really met each other. You know how that works to those that don't live and breathe blogs and twitter.

Anyways, this is the first time I've met up with online friends in person and didn't feel extremely anxious. There was a point when it was strange to me to have shared so much personal information back and forth and then finally meet in person. People can be very different in the flesh! And yet I've never had a bad experience with the in-person meet-up. I always go for a public location and make sure the husband knows where I am and when to expect to hear back from me. (Note to self: make sure to turn phone ON, otherwise husband will text and call and start being concerned when that you aren't answering when you are so chill that you just hang out for longer than planned.)

So back to Texas - I wasn't nervous. And I realized that part of my issue with making friends through more traditional circumstances is that I always feel like I invest a lot into the relationship and by the time I'm comfortable sharing about who I really am, maybe that freaks them out and they no longer want to be friends with the anxious paranoid girl with self-esteem issues and no job. The best part of my online friends is that I'm able to throw all of that out there right up front. "Hi, I'm Cate, and I'm heavily medicated." By the time we get around to meeting in-person, I don't have to worry about putting on a mask to woo you into being my friend and then being afraid later that you won't like the "real" me.

I wish I could be more open and honest in my day-to-day life. If I could really just own it, it would do me a world of good. But in the meantime, I really cherish those of you who have become my friends over the years, sharing all of your deep secrets with me and allowing me to share mine with you. It makes that first hug when we finally meet-up mean so much more. And that's awesome.


C. Beth said...

People so often point out the NEGATIVE of online discussions--how easy it is to say whatever you want, regardless of others' feelings. But that whole "say whatever you want" can sometimes be a great thing too--how it allows you to open up in a safe environment.

Great post, Cate. I'm glad you're my friend, meds and all. :)

Tami said...

You're right - it really is hard to explain blog friends to someone who doesn't participate. Now that we have moved, we are only 90 miles from one of my very first blog friends and I can't wait to meet her in person. Kudos to you for making that happen in Texas.

Glad your vacation was such a success. Family can be... uh....difficult. Glad this one was a good batch.

SF said...

You need to hustle your buns to Salt Lake so we can ... I don't know, this town is boring. BUT we can hang out!!!

Toriz said...

I'd like to meet up with online friends, but most of them live in other countries, and the one who doesn't... Well, we both keep ending up in hospital just as one or the other is thinking of visiting. LOL!

I did meet one friend though... Ended up marrying him! ;)

Melinda (Sew-Lin) said...

I think you summed up the feeling of meeting online friends in person perfectly! Hopefully someday I will get to meet you in person. I'm so lucky to have a friend like you, no matter how we came to be friends.

Pamela Jaye said...

While I've only been on Twitter two years and commented on blogs since 2007 or so, I've been meeting friends that I've had from the internet since... 1994 - a small Quantum Leap convention in Indiana. I'm not a scifi geek, but will admit to being a fan of Scott Bakula. I don't know if I would have been such a fan if I had not read the stories from all the people who met him. Still, most of his fans are pretty cool - and as for the ones who aren't: I'm on Facebook now, so I can totally choose who I surround myself with.
Only bad thing about online friends? They can't bring you soup if you are sick (they can ship it, they really can't cook it for you) and they can't help you move.