Meeting someone in the flesh for the first time is an interesting experience, particularly after you’ve established a relationship via an online forum. WordPress is one example, but so is Facebook, Google+, and others. With the availability of free or cheap webcamming (FaceTime, ooVoo, Skype), you can virtually sit with someone as easily as we once phoned them. How did that voice-only deal ever work, anyway?
In any case, relationships are different than they once were, even though you’re likely to face skepticism from those not as wired as the rest of us. Over the years, having nurtured friendships that began online and continued into the “real” (physical) world, I’ve learned to recognize which relationships are viable. Being online neither enables nor inhibits friendships to become close. That requires bilateral interaction, real-life issues, and the same kinds of give and take you’d get with your next-door-neighbor. However, doing so via webcam is no less viable than talking to your long-distance sister on the telephone. The computer is a communication tool, not a substitute for it.
I traveled a long distance to spend my holiday with my best friend and muse, who is a wonderful, challenging, lovely woman I’d seen only via her computer’s camera. And to neither of our surprise, not only did we relate to one another as well as we had via the computer, the in-person communication was worlds better. Certainly, being online is no substitute for having people you can touch, hold, kiss, and nurture, but neither is it worse than being in-person with those with whom you care to do none of those things.
Simply put, this means of connecting, interacting, and sharing your experiences is as real as you make it. My newest experience with meeting one of my blogging relationship in person couldn’t have been better. Not surprisingly, every encouragement I received along the way was from others of my online friends. I suppose the next step will be to arrange a larger group.
For now, however, my love and I have real-world issues to work out … computer or no.