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July 22, 2008

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Matthew

I have pondered this thing before myself. It's interesting to me because I met my wife via the internet 10 years ago before dating websites were all the rage. Therefore, it only seems natural that I would have friendships through the virtual world with people I haven't met - yet.

Over time I've actually even met some bloggers and now do things with them in the "real world" that friends do - go to ball games, go to birthday parties, get drunk together, etc.

And I think you are right - people in the blogging world do, for the most part, seem to be exactly like they are on-line. It's refreshing.

Having said that, when we finally meet you better not be a 5 foot white guy from South Dakota.

Oh, and for the record, I'd totally bail you out too. But I might ask some questions because I'm sure the answers would be fascinating.

Mocha

It's normal to have a myriad of experiences with people in your everyday life and I've found that online folks are really not much different from that. I'm not talking about The Crazy, but when you see that one coming it's so obvious.

There are people I read every day they write and I almost never comment, but when I see them at whatever event is happening I am instantly attracted to them (hopefully, that's reciprocated) and we bond in this strange way. We're all on our best behavior, though, and these could be the "good friends" Klosterman was talking about.

The "close friends" are people that email and call and meet up occasionally when they are in town. (No one, and I mean NO ONE, is a resident blogger where I live. This town has no idea that I exist in the blogworld and that's ok by me.)

Thing is, I don't think everyone I'm supposed to meet in this lifetime is situated within a 50 miles radius. That view is what makes me continuously change my opinion on meeting folks IRL that you've known online. It's true: The world is flat and it's making this friendship experience easier to actually experience.

So, next time I'm in New York...?

Sheri

I just started blogging. I did it partially because of you, Pierre. You were writing about how you hate when people don't use complete sentences and so on. I used to be a stickler for proper grammar and spelling. Since becoming a mom and not having to write, I've seemingly lost it, really. Maybe one day, with a lot of practice, I'll regain some of what I've lost.
Several years ago, I met some people IRL that I had only previously known online. They were exactly as they were online. I also met my oldest son's father via the college computer system (way before internet chatrooms, but very similiar) back in 1987.

Crystal

I'm new to the blogging world and am thinking about starting my own. I just wanted to say that I loved this post and also the guest post that you did at Wind In Your Vagina. It's so refreshing to hear a man talk about his love of fatherhood. You sound like a great dad.

Alexandra

The first time I logged on an internet chat room in 1996 (does anyone remember mIRC?) my mind was blown away. Suddenly, distances of time and space became blurred. I could chat in real time with someone sitting on the other side of the globe. I loved it and spent a lot of time there and six months later I met my husband in one of those chat room - before dating sites or even relationship sites even existed. We chatted online for a year before we met in person and there were no surprises. We knew each other better than we knew many people we had known for years in "real" life. We continue to make online friends to this day - I do it through my blog and he does it in Second Life. Many we met physically but there are many others - people we can comfortably refer to as friends - that we have yet to meet in person.

I think the Internet breaks barriers and helps connecting people with something in common that would otherwise never have met. I'm constantly amazed at how much of our personalities people can actually pick up from our writing. Long live the Internet!

Dyar Baby Momma

Through online boards, I have created friendships that I hope will last a lifetime. Usually something joins us together, and the friendship blooms from there. I have a group of friends who were all trying to conceive at the same time, as well as a group of friends who all had babies due at the same time, and I do consider them friends and hope to meet them in person one day.

jeramy

i consider myself a "people person"....however, i much prefer the accessible distance from the masses (who am i kidding...the 3 people that read my blog), that a blog insures. i recently talked about being an introvert and extrovert at the same time in one of my posts. i think that's true. sometimes i feel like a nut, sometimes i don't.

Susannah K

If anything, the internet has made the world a smaller place. It's easier to find people online who share your interests than it is to find similar people in your own hometown. I've made many friends through bulletin boards, chat rooms, and blogs. Sure, it's a little weird the first time you meet but after a little while, it always feels so natural. I love it.

Like you said, they were already my friends. I just hadn't met them yet.

Issa

First, the name of his blog alone will make me go and check it out. I need more blogs to read anyway.

Second, I think when I stopped blogging, I was dismissing what this community means to me. I've missed it every day since then and I swear to remember that, for the day when (if) I once again consider leaving. The Internet had changed who we are as people and how we relate. Some say it's a bad thing, but I don't believe so. It helps me to connect to people in a way I never thought possible. I am a people person too, but I'm not great at keeping in touch, I just get caught up in the day to day crazyness that is my life. Blogging, email, texting and now twitter has changed that and in my mind it's for the better.

Paige Jennifer

The first time I met a blogger I adored face to face, I almost peed myself. And I thought for sure she'd think I was a loser. Turns out she was as excited to meet me. I know, me? Within a few months I was visiting her in DC and the rest is history.

Anyway, I've made some friends through these here wires. My experience has always been favorable. And if anything, more favorable than the crap eHarmony keeps introducing me to. Fascinating that a blog can restore one's faith in humanity.

Chelle

I became a SAHM 4.5 years ago and started blogging 3 years ago. I also learned to knit and was drawn to the knittng/parenting/blogging community and it has introduced me to women I might never have otherwise met. Women older than me, younger than me, in the USA and not, black, women in the country, etc. And in a stange way, this feeling of community made me feel more like myself than I had for the previous 1.5 years. I have no doubt that if I met my online friends that we would get along famously in real life!

Having said that, I made an entry once that nearly cost me a dear, dear friendship. So now I am extremely careful of what I post. My blog is now almost exclusively for my hobbies/some kiddo stuff, not my overall life. (I have a private blog shared with my twin sister that is where I snark and bitch about everything else I don't say on my public blog.)

Though I have to say that if I was ever in New York, you'd be the first person I'd call for coffee & chat!

margalit

Many of my closest IRL friends are people I met via the internet. Only they are friends I met over the internet almost 20 years ago, when the internet was tiny, the users were either engineers, scientists, or in the tech industry. There was no private access to the net back then. So those people I met were an extremely tight knit group of people and we had get-togethers were we met irl. From there, my friendships took off, and I'm happy to report that for the most part, they still are healthy relationships.

Like you, I like a very diverse set of friends. So the cowboy's wife from Iowa, the Rabbi's ex-wife from Atlanta, the NASA/JPL scientist, the linguist, the poet, and the stay-at-home moms that I met via the net have remained my closest friends.

I've met quite a few Boston bloggers, but they seem different than the old Usenet folks. I don't know why, but they do.

JLow

I had mixed feelings about online friends.

When I was married the first time I introduced ex wife to newsgroups on inter-racial couples for her reading pleasure. In short, she introduced me to the whole new concept of online cheating even before Hollywood caught on. In short some more, the marriage ended and I ran home to mummy in my country of origin.

I say "had" because now I am also a blogger. When I returned home to mummy free and single, I needed to start a whole new circle of friends, and fast; back in the saddle so to speak. I joined websites of friends (the birth of the likes of Friendster, which strangely enough I am not a member of) and started to want to know people. A few times I did go out on dates with these, ending up totally regretting it; she creeped me out in fact. However, I have also made at least 2 good friends on this platform, friends to this day.

I am now also on FB, re-connecting with school friends from 20 years ago, though most are just "affable" ones too. By blogging however, I had also connected and even met up with some of the other mummies and daddies (I blog about being a father too) when one of them held a birthday party for her son and the bloggers were invited.

Similarly, the people online are just the same as offline; less shy online even, and gives it more meaning when you leave comments on their posts, because you have met them before.

jubgulia

My husband just started a blog, mostly about baseball, but about fatherhood and whatever else as well: http://hobbitball.blogspot.com/

Hetha

I absolutely love and care for online friends that I've never met IRL. It's hard to explain to people who don't blog, but it's totally possible to form deep connections through words on a screen!

Greta

It's funny. I think I've reached a point in my life where I like my online friends far more than my "real life" ones. Makes sense though. We're often forced into friendships due to past shared histories or proximity. Online, we can see and meet people for who they really are.

LiteralDan

I think it would be really fun to meet in real life a lot of the bloggers I read, and I agree that you can really get a sense for someone's personality from reading what they write about the world and themselves over a long period of time.

The only change I can immediately think of would be that a good number of people would be shy at first, and so not quite like their online persona until they warmed up.

maya

I've been blogging for a year and a half now and have made so many "friends" through my blog. I dont know how I ventured into the blog world, but I'm happy I'm there. I am def invested in their lives and they in mine. I have yet to meet any of them in person but will soon.

Jacqui

I'm not sure I wold feel comfortable meeting people in person that I only know via the internet. Then again, I don't have a blog; I'm not on facebook; and I don't post on bulletin boards or forums. I'm more of a behind-the-scenes reader. In fact, yours is one of the few blogs I read. Maybe if I were more involved in the online world, I'd feel differently. Or maybe I'm just socially inhibited.

Miss Grace

I just found BHJ today, and from there you, and this was a FABULOUS day.

In regards to the subject of your post, I just got back from BlogHer '08, and let me just say that my friendships have increased 1000-fold, and I am so much the richer for it. I am finally convinced that the internet is "real life."

Brian

Wait, you blog AND have friends? Hell, it's all I can do to blog and have dinner.

Marinka

I've met many of my favorite people on the internet. There is that weird "oh my god, you're three dimensional!" factor when you finally meet face to face, but that's pretty easy to overcome.

Jozet at Halushki

When I moved from one part of the state to another, it was my online friends who buoyed me and made me feel at home in an otherwise lonely place.

When we fall out and argue, their words can hurt me and sting just as hard as words heard face to face.

I'm learning to be more extroverted in real life, and my "warm blood" friends are important to me.

But when I really let loose and say the wacky ass things that I'm usually thinking 90% of the time but holding in, and someone on line says "me too", well that's a kind of antidote to alone-ness that can't be matched.

Great post. Fabulous. Thank you.

Laura

As a person who is painfully shy in person and cannot start (or continue) a conversation with a stranger, I love the Internet. Seriously, there should probably be a restraining order taken out against me by the Internet, I love it that much. I started talking to my husband on a local IRC line, and I am able to keep in touch with family and friends way more than I am ever able to do in person or on the phone. I think you can really get to know someone online. I have a very good friend, who I tell everything to, and we just met for the first time in May. We have been talking online, sharing a lot about ourselves and becoming really invested in each other's lives for 4 years and we just met face to face. The best part of our meeting? There was no awkwardness (I am queen of the awkward) because we know so much about each other. I just love that!

Danielle

I love the way you have with words, MD. You always have such a great perspective to things. Peanut and BossLady are lucky to have you around.

I've really yet to venture into the online world. I'm mostly a passive blog lurker. I rarely comment and I don't let myself get engaged personally. I'm thinking about starting a blog soon so maybe that will all change!

Neil

This is a complicated question, but one I think about a lot. On one hand, I appreciate the writing and talent of so many bloggers. But this does not necessarily mean that I consider them friends. I've always thought that bloggers spend way too much time pursuing the friendship of someone popular rather than interacting with those who are already there. I would not want to be Picasso's friend. He would not drive me to the airport, being too busy sleeping with women and getting drunk. In layman's terms, this means some of the most wonderful people I've met online, have so-so blogs. Not everyone can write up a storm.

I also find it interesting how I have become extremely close to some bloggers through email and IM. We know things about each other that my friends of 25 years do not. Some of this comes from the fact that bloggers do not usually live next to each other. I'm sometimes afraid of meeting my blogging friends because I worry that contact will "ruin" this special relationship. It is much more difficult talking to people in person about certain subjects than online. On the other hand, sometimes I will meet a blogger in person and it will ruin things for another reason -- the person is so cool in person, that going back to a virtual relationship seems like a step backwards.

Clearly, virtual friendship will only become more common as we all live half our day on the internet. Some of it is the best thing in the world, and some of it is a bit unhealthy.

Janelle

You know it's so funny that I used to think about this kind of stuff only in terms of my kids. What sites were they visiting? Who were they chatting with? A stranger! How do you know him? Are you sure it's not an adult?

I have one friend that I met online who happens to live in a neighboring town. However, it's been fascinating to watch my teenage kids develop real relationships with people that they've met online. In some cases, we've arranged trips so that the kids could meet their online friends in person. Interestingly, I'm more impressed with the friends that they made online than the ones that they met in school.

I guess my kids have shown this old lady the future!

twizzle

Hi MetroDad,

I was pleased to join your blogging network on Facebook today. As for your question of the day, here's my two cents:

I think you'd love me if you met me in person. I'm just like my blogging persona, only funnier, cuter, and with bigger boobs.

But with all seriousness aside... I have found it the strangest thing to meet a fellow blogger for the first time and realize that you already know everything about each other. It's like you've already cut through the "getting to know you" bullshit and start talking about really important topics right away! This happened w/ me and City Mama a few years ago. I would love to meet more of my fella Kimchi Mamas, but many of them live in the midwest or back east.

Facebook is a weird phenomenon that I'm still trying to wrap my head around: I have been known to befriend people I hardly (or don't even) know; but then I don't publish anything too raunchy on it. So, like if my mom were to Facebook friend me, I wouldn't cringe in the same way I would if she were to find my blog!

I'll check out that vagina guy now, although I already hate him because he uses the V word for cheap shock value! Reminds me of a Judd Apatow screenplay title.

xoxo

mac daniels

i don't have any online friends. i fear it is that i have a virtual stink that follows me around like an officeplace rumor of infidelity with "that HR chick." or maybe i'm just a dick.

malathionman

I have never met any of my on-line friends, but I would like to. I don't have very many of them but I truely consider them my friends, and if they needed me for something I would be there for them.

If they are willing to get past my silly "Malathionman" on-line persona then they are OK in my book.

Maria

I met my best friend online four years ago. She lived in Ohio and I lived in Florida. After a couple years of friendship online and over the phone, I drove up there and helped her move down and she's lived here since. We live about 45 minutes apart now but we're still very close. Our relationship matured and changed a little as we made that transition from "online" to "real life" but I'm very grateful that the internet allowed us to make that initial connection.

Kevin

I, too, have made new friends via the blogosphere and whom I have only communicated with via the internet. In response to your comment about questioning if they would be different in person, I think that's more of an issue when someone is trying to attract other people (dates, potential mates, voters, etc).

I don't think married guys like us, writing about our crazy kids and keeping family and friends up to date on our lives, would have a hidden agenda like that. Plus, if you aren't broadcasting your real name out there, there's an air of anonymity in blogging, and people tend to be more forthcoming with strangers or when they have some concealment in anonymity.

You don't give yourself enough credit though. You sing high praises for BHJ's writing talent, but you're equally as talented. I really enjoy your blog, and BHJ is pretty funny, too. Keep up the good work!

A Free Man

Funny, I recently met a blogging friend for the first time. I was a bit hesitant to do so, but am really glad that I did. Turns out that we were able to translate our "virtual" friendship to a "real" one with no problem at all.

Unpredictable

A loud and resounding YES to the question of whether online relationships can be as meaningful and deep as 'real world' relationships. All my closest friends in the last 2 years have been made online (friends of friends, not necessarily complete strangers) and are still sustained online. There's so much more most people let you in on about themselves when they're online vs. when they're around you, it's not entirely incorrect to say friendships can be forged faster and more honestly! :)

creative-type dad

the Ivory to his Ebony?
Now I have visions of you at a piano. Eating Popeyes.

I've met up with one other "daddy blogger" about a year ago. It surprised me how much we weren't strangers at all.

Shawn

Thanks for the recommendation...if his interestingly-named blog is anything like yours, it's worth checking out.

I think if Descartes were alive today, "I blog, therefore I am" would be his mantra, too.

Estelle

Don't laugh but I met my best friend via an online knitting forum! Her comments were so hilarious but nobody else ever appreciated her weird sense of humor except me. We would crack each other up to the point where people would write on the bulletin board for us to get our own room. I guess that's when we knew we were friends.

E-mails turned to phone calls. Phone calls led to meet-ups. And meet-ups led to a lifelong friendship. So yes, I'm a firm believer that the friends you meet online ARE real ones and I think it's great that the internet has allowed us to do this.

Black Hockey Jesus

If anything, the goofy internet is making thoughtful people ask thoughtful questions about what relationships, in there essence, are. Most people, I assume, live inside the unquestioned assumptions that the "real" takes precedence over the virtual, and that spoken, physically present communication takes precedent over the written. I don't agree. I don't have the answers, but there's a kind of joy in flipping these values, in re-understanding what it means to be "present".

Isn't reading what I've written "being with" me? In a way, a new kind of being way? Of course it is. Now we're entering the scope of my blog. Isn't remembering Skip a form of "being with" Skip? Of course it is. I just don't find it interesting to write "And then I remembered something Skip told me". I write "And then Skip appeared to me [because he did] and we spoke". Memory is a kind of speaking, no? I'm way off track.

I think, depending on the quality of the reader's imagination, that they can "be with you" in profounder ways than some of the people you traffic with in our degraded 21st c. reality. Most people who are "in the room" are not with you. They are preoccupied with their thoughts, their ideas, memories, and dreams. They are probably more "with you" when they're focused and reading MetroDad.

That's my dollar 2.

And thanks for your incredibly nice posts on your site and mine. We are virtual pals. Word is bond. {written) WORD is bond. ~BHJ

the mad momma

I have made some wonderful online friendships that have become real life friendships now. These people are my lifelife and know my deepest and darkest fears and secrets.

The security of anonymity at times helps you let down your guard. And isnt that when you are your truest self? Virtual friendships are made with like minded people unlike the real - where you're stuck with people who work with you or live in your apartment complex.

I've also had some bad experiences where someone I trusted, came into my home and had a meal at my table with my husband and children and me. And all the while ran a parallel blog to mine, spoofing it in the cruelest way...

Asianmommy

I've never met anyone in real life that I had known online. There are a few people I think it would be fun to meet, but I think they all live too far away.

Shannon Best

MD,
I am married to my internet Sweetheart. And let me tell you how lucky I am to have found him. We were "yahoo-ing" one day and my screen name was Jettagirl....The first thing he said to me was "only cute girls drive jettas"...........I was in FL (ick) and he was here in Austin (native)........needless to say we fell in love and I packed all my shit, loaded up the 3 dogs and 1 cat, loaded the Jetta (by myself) onto a flatbed and pulled it behind the 14 foot Penske. We met the day I got to Austin. I knew what he looked like and knew about him but had never laid eyes on him. he wanted a Lutheran girl who would go see rock n roll shows. There are people on the net that I admire (you for one). I've made contacts with all sorts of moms and dads....it all started when I became a SAHM. After the Twins in 2006 (bet he didnt see THAT coming!) I started googling and thats all she wrote. I think the net can be dangerous. You have to be smart and have some damn common sense. I think of all the people who might not have ever met had it not been for this hunk of plastic we spend hours in front of.
I am glad to know you and the many friends I have made here.
-Shannon in Austin

Aracely

I applaud you for seeking out people that are different than you, I'm quite the opposite. I like finding in other people, the more Me The better.

Modern Single Momma

The blogosphre has turned into my hommie-sphere.
Don't know how it happened... didn't expect it, but like love, I can't deny it.

Its a giddy feeling- everyday encountering a new crush--girl and guy- and feeling pretty swell about the universe because at every turn there seems to be another awesome human being with whome you could share bottle of virtual wine with and become friends for life.

Makes you realize how unimportant the physical maybe... definitely worlds of connection going on regardless.

Let's be friends on facebook? ;)

Gloria

I think some of my closest friends are from the internet; from forums and then getting to know them better from chatting online. I met my husband about 10 years ago (I'm 23 btw) in the pre-MyFaceFriendbook age, too.

I think in person I'm a little more shy. It takes me a little more time to get used to it. Plus I either do this thing where I end up entertaining people, but not really getting people to know me or getting to know other people, OR I only talk to one person.

With blogs and IMs, I feel like I can let my real self show. It's kinda weird.

But yes, I do love my internet friends. I just met 2 of them for the first time a few weeks ago, and it was like seeing really old friends. I was so excited to see their baby, especially after seeing so many pictures and videos of her. It was amazing.

As for my "real life" friends, I still primarily use the internet to keep up with them! So really, what's the difference? Perhaps my punch lines aren't as good, but that's it.

misfithausfrau

Hmm, you pose an interesting question. I have met three bloggers who were all really nice, but they stopped blogging. Once they stopped blogging, there was really no more contact. I'm getting a complex...

Velma

I think it's am amazing phenomenon - I've been meeting on-line friends IRL since the mid-90's, and one thing is for sure: it's not a given that you'll like someone IRL just because you "know" them from on-line. You won't always be best friends, but sometimes? It's like you hit gold, meeting someone you never would have know existed.

It's ALL a matter of nuance, these relationship thingies. In person or on-line, you can often tell who you might hit it off with, and sometimes you go out to dinner or meet up with people IRL and it's AWKward. Sometimes it's crazy fun, but you have to be a grown up about it, you know? If it sucks, be gracious and move one.

deb

well, now i know why i've heard tell of you so often.

you're quite the worthy read.

sure BHJ isn't the robin to *your* batman?

manager mom

I am very socially awkward when meeting new people. For me, blogging has been an icebreaker, a pre-screener, and something to bond over.

I never guessed how blogging and the internet would have brought so many good things into my life.

Jenny

this is such a timely question! i have a pretty close friend that i met on line about four years ago. after about two years of correspondence, she came from several states away to meet me and my family. she desperately hoped that i was really a 30-something woman and not a crazy old man. she and her husband even had a signal worked out in case i turned out to be totally nuts. fortunately, we all hit it off and our families have met up on a couple of different occasions since.

i'm acutally pretty surprised that it worked out so well. i am not a "people person" and don't really like that many people irl. maybe this is the way to go for me, though, since the internet expands the pool of potential friends...

l.schiller

Maybe I'm a little scarred.

I once met someone on an education-related message board. She seemed like someone I would like and could somewhat act as a mentor for me. We got to exchanging e-mails and phone calls. After a year, she mentioned that she was going to be near my hometown for a seminar. I offered to have her stay at my place for a week instead of a hotel. We could finally meet in person and she could save money on lodging.

At first, everything went great. We hit it off in person and were chatting like old friends? Then, weird stuff started happening. A bottle of wine I had been saving was gone. She invited another friend of hers to stay the night at my place without asking. I woke up at 4:00 am to find her baking in the kitchen.

I swore that I'd never befriend someone solely through the internet again. This all happened 5 years ago and I'm sort of starting to chalk it up to bad luck. We'll see. Maybe I'll change my mind again.

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