29 March, 2009

The Internet is a Weird Place

When I was a kid, my mom was into the church, and a few times I remember hosting weird choir people from out of state at our house, because that is what you did back then. These days, I think about the funny things my daughter will remember when she is my age, like the weird guy from England we had stay with us when she was just 5 years old. One of my first, major internet experiences was with a group of people who were all fans of the same Brooklyn based band. We met on the official site, eventually branched off into our own site and had at least two "unofficial" get togethers right here in Pennsylvania.

During the first gathering, I invited one of the group members, a young man from England, to come and say with my family, so he could enjoy his time in America by saving some cash on a hotel. He was very pleasant, a lot of fun to talk to, but shortly after he stayed with us, I lost touch with him completely.

When the second gathering came around, I invited another young guy to come and stay with us because he didn't have a steady job and couldn't afford a hotel. Before he got here, he was excited about coming, and was really looking forward to meeting a dear friend of mine for the first time. Oddly enough, he was so shy that the experience was just uncomfortable. He left without even thanking us for letting him stay at our house, and though we kept in touch for a couple of years online, I eventually lost track of him as well.

I am blogging about this because it seems a strange thing. My parents rarely had total strangers come and stay at their home, much less people they met on the internet, but I can think of at least four times that I had complete, physical strangers come and stay in my home. One year, a friend who has become very dear to me over the last few years, flew me out to California at her own expense and put me up with her and her husband while we visited San Francisco. Before I stepped off the plane, we had never met in person.

I know there are dangers with meeting people online, but I enjoy meeting people. The internet has brought some of the most amazing people into my life over the last ten years, people I would never have had the pleasure of getting to know. I've worked with some, built empires with others, and plan to take over the world with a few.

What about you? Have you ever met anyone in person that you first knew online? What was your experience like? If you haven't, would you consider doing so?


Nicole Ireland said...

Let me think about this one. Have I met anyone online that I now consider a friend? Why of course. YOU! There are a couple others as well.

What all of you have in common is your willingness to accept me for who I am and not what I can give you. You all accept me, even with my faults. You never ask me to be someone I'm not. You encourage me and support me, no matter what. You're also honest when I need you to be, even when it's something that's hard to hear. With all of you, there are no false pretenses. You make me laugh and cry. You make me feel like I'm a good person who can make a difference in other's lives. You make me see the good parts of myself.

I feel blessed to be able to call you and my other friends....my best friends!

Jacquéline Roth said...

I think too many people mistake proximity for intimacy. They aren't the same.

Rachel Cotterill said...

Well, you know that I just blogged about this. But I've done it other times, too, and have gone to stay with "internet friends" in other countries in Europe. I like people; living in different cities, different countries, different continents, shouldn't be a barrier to making new friends.

So when are you coming to visit? ;)

AravisGirl said...

My mom's met people form online before. They were cool.

Anonymous said...

You're story mirrors my own quite a bit ;-)
Aside from how we met, I met Dylan online. That ended well! Now we have a grouping of friends we mutually met online via our love of film. We will most likely be meeting a few of them this summer.
It's a strange thing from an "outside" perspective. I don't view it that way.

Jenny Beans said...

Nicole, I am honored to count you among my friends! :) One day, we are going to have that get together.

Jae, I'm not sure I understand what you mean? Are you talking about how it's easier to be friends sometimes with people who live across the pond, than in your own backyard?

I enjoyed your blog, Rachel, that was what prompted me to write mine. I thought of all the wonderful people I met online. One day, when I cross the pond, we will get together and have tea!

AravisGirl, my mom thought I was crazy for meeting people online, LOL!

Christine, you are one of the best people I have met online. I wish we could spend more time together, as I still consider you one of my closest friends. I never knew you met Dylan online. that's awesome.