Monday, July 25, 2011
Long Distance Runaround
Truth is, I've been sort of on vacation. My friend Jessica was out here visiting for two weeks and we had a great time hanging around together. We did a bunch of eating, we wandered around some, we made some art, and we did a great deal of nothing. Both of us are unaccustomed to doing nothing, so it was actually pretty taxing. Watching movies all day long can be incredibly tiring.
One of the more fun things we did was taking a road trip to Yakima (well, that in itself is no joy ride) to meet up with two other online friends from a group that we're all in. That's a day and a half that will go on my own personal Days To Remember List as Most Fun Ever.
The thing is, until Jessica's trip out here, we had never met "in real life." Until our trip to Yakima, neither of us had met the other two "in real life." I put "in real life" in quotes, because in this marvelous age of electronics, what's real life anyway? Is a friendship that spans seven years online any less of a friendship? I submit no. From the moment Jessica got out of Steve's truck after he picked her up at the airport, we were comfortable and just as close as if we'd been meeting for coffee once a week for the past few years. There was no awkwardness, no feeling of "Oh crap... so that's what you're really like." Part of that is because we are both as real online as we are "in real life." But I also think that a lot of it is because there is a real connection there - and a real connection doesn't care how the connection is made. It just is.
The same was true of the big meet up in Yakima. The four of us hugged and began laughing from the very first moment. There was no distance, no sideways glances from any of us wondering if the others were just as accepting of the friendships. We had a blast. We had a blast and it was over with far too soon. I kept thinking, "Dammit. I want to hang around with these people every single day!" And I do. Online.
There's where the difference is. I don't get to hear their laughter. I don't get to see their eyes light up with humor or tear up when their hearts get tugged. I don't get to make goofy faces at them. We don't get to hug. That's the hardest part, because those are some damned fine hugs. But other than basic physical stuff, the heart of it is as real as it gets.
I've heard other people malign online relationships, claiming they're not real. Over the years I've had the pleasure of meeting quite a few online friends. When I tell others about such events, I often get a response of "Wow. Really?! Isn't that awkward?" Not at all. Granted there are some iffy people out there, but aren't there some iffy people "in real life" too? Who among us hasn't stumbled across someone "in real life" who later on turned out to be less than a friend? The trick in any walk you take with someone else is the old adage that, to have a friend you have to be a friend.
Friendships of any kind, no matter the distance, are about being there for the other person, are about making the other person's day or world a little brighter, a little better. When it all comes down, isn't that's what's real?
Posted by Barb Black at 9:25:00 AM