Even as pundits bemoan the end of known society-painting, pictures of computer-frozen zombies clicking away-I feel hope and see the growth of a newly close world.
Without (I hope!) losing my real-life friends, ones I see in the flesh on a regular basis, my circle of new friends, word friends, grows. Sometimes it seems as though I've finally gained those pen pals I always wanted growing up. (A phenomenon that seemed to happen in every childhood novel I read, but never once in the Brooklyn schools I attended.)
I'm not sure exactly how it began-friend-zero-but I can trace it to joining Backspace, an online group for writers. It was my first experience with having an online presence, though for a long time I simply lurked. Much like real-life, I was shy, the new kid, afraid to crash into a clique and have the popular kids mock me. Then I made my introduction (how many times can one agonize and re-write, "Hi! I'm new to Backspace and . . .)
From there I went to Facebook, where I still thrill to finding old friends, people I might never have seen again if not for their posting their picture on the site. Then I joined Red Room Authors, where I started recognizing regular bloggers, enjoying keeping tabs of favorites. I am now the tiniest bit edged into Twitter, with barely a following, but enjoying being a follower.
There are other sites I occasionally dip into, but in main I stick to two or three sites-because on line, as in life, there is only so much socializing I can do.
Perhaps there is a sociologist who will tell me that I am in the midst of a group psychosis, as I start to feel I know these unknown people, but for one who works at home, alone at her desk, it's as close to a water cooler as I may get.
With old friends, who've become word friends (because of miles or years between us) online may be as close as we get to reunion, but I've seen their pictures, heard about their children, and learned when they change jobs.
Through Backspace, I truly do feel like I've gained word friends-friends who I write, friends whose writing I enjoy, friends who've helped me in large and generous ways, through their words of sage advice.
I like having them.
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