Ten years ago, if a friend had mentioned she met a guy on the internet I would have automatically assumed he was a serial killer ready to make her skin into a dress. At the time the internet was just a wonderful place where I could AIM chat my friends who went away to college and annoy my poor roommate by clacking away on the keyboard all night talking to them. Making new friends through this new found wonder was absolutely out of the question as I was pretty sure the only people who did that were lonely cat ladies, the aforementioned serial killers, or would be serial killers who needed to practice.
As the internet expanded rapidly, it became obvious that more people were using it as a means to meet each other. When the online dating services first sprang up, my friend was all over it. She had a date pretty much every night with a nice gentleman. I was still in “make sure he doesn’t kill you” mode, but had added “is the internet going to become sentient soon and kill us all?” to the roster of paranoia.
I don’t like change.
Eventually I gave in as my friends were joining in the madness. Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, blogging…etc. Then Facebook went from being a place where I could throw a sheep at you and it was hilariously absurd, to a place where we could actually document our lives. My friends graduated, got jobs, got married, had kids. All I had to do was open up my newsfeed and their lives were unfolding in front of me. I didn’t have to call or email, I could just peruse the pics of their vineyard wedding and read their articles about why they’re choosing a natural water birth or whatever. I remember the first time I saw someone put up a sonogram as their profile picture and all I could think was, “I can see your womb. I kind of don’t want to see your womb every time I want to make a comment on your page. Your womb is keeping me from saying fuck a lot.” Myspace died a quick death with the rise of our need to craft the perfect life on Facebook. Also the layout is much less complicated and I didn’t have to learn how to code just to change something on my profile. It wasn’t until I started blogging that the idea of meeting people on the internet became something I didn’t turn my nose up at.
Then I discovered the allure of Twitter and I really started to see the benefits of the ever expanding universe of the internet.
Some people hate Twitter and claim, “they don’t even know how it works”. Whatever. It’s one of my favorite things on the internet besides this link to a review of dinosaur erotica. I don’t have to look at your dinner, or your kids, or your cupcakes, or that mud run you did. Facebook is the family reunion to Twitter’s come one, come all keg party where we all jump in the pool fully clothed, get drunk, and try to tell the funniest joke. The best part is that it’s not just your friends on there, it’s writers, comedians, actors, etc who are all putting up thought provoking articles or making absurd jokes. You can follow them. You can respond to them. Sometimes they respond back. If they think you’re cool, they might even follow you and you’ve made a new friend.
With the advent of the smartphone it became easier to have all of these platforms right there in your hand. Lunches with your real life friends became a game of when is it ok to look at my phone to see if anyone liked the article I put up? Or just hoping she got up to use the bathroom soon so you could check Twitter really quick. I went from thinking every one on the internet was going to kill me in my sleep to oh, I’ll just give him a Facebook/Google and see what comes up. I don’t refer to this as “stalking” so much as I call it a “reconnaissance mission”. It sounds better and no one is outside in your bushes with binoculars, they’re just trying to find out if you have a girlfriend.
As my friends moved away to build their own lives, I became more dependent on the internet to stay in touch. I never feel that these connections diminish my real life ones as I make sure to be present in both as much as I can. There’s also a point where you have to say ok making jokes on Twitter with whomever is fun, but it’s my nieces’ birthday and that’s more important. Yes, so and so wrote a great post today, but my friend is upset and I need to take her out and do something fun. As with anything in life, it’s about balance.
So as time has passed, some of my internet friends have become real life friends, and some of my real life friends have transitioned to internet friends. This is not to say that we still don’t need to look out for the ax murderer posing as someone else, it just means we’re getting better at knowing how to spot them. I’d like to thank Lizzie for this post that made me really think about how the internet has effected and enhanced my connections around the world. Also, thank you to Aussa for her post pointing out that: He looks great on Facebook. He might even be funny on Twitter. That doesn’t mean he’s not an elitist douchenozzle, with lady fingers, in real life.
For those who are fans of mine and Aussa’s faces, our new vlog will be dropping this Sunday :) Teaser below: