I have a virtual life, but I love it.

I began thinking earlier of just how much time I would have to myself if I gave up the internet.
Now, I know that the time I spend online these days is but a mere fraction of the time I’d spend this time last year, but it is still quite a substantial portion of my life.

Yes, at present people could say “well, what else are you going to do? You’re ill, you can’t work” and I’d have to agree, I don’t like it but it’s true, I can’t. Yet.

Although if I’m going to be 100% honest (and I try to be as often as I can – especially with myself) it’s not so much the work I miss as the camaraderie and the pay cheque.
If I were rich I’d quite happily never work again. But I’m not rich and never likely to be, so I’d like to work, if only to redeem my current financial position to the state it was just prior to this illness taking hold.

Now, I could give up the internet completely, but not without a pang or three.
I love the fact that through this medium I can touch other peoples lives and in turn be touched myself – through this blog alone I have found people I truly consider friends – Brandie, Master K, Hot Karl and April, this despite knowing the chances of my meeting any of these wonderful people are incredibly slim (gotta love that whole financial thing) I know some people totally ‘pooh pooh’ the idea of having a real friendship with someone you don’t really know and have never spent time with in person. But I doubt many of you reading this can fail to understand my meaning.

I started this post with the intention of explaining my ‘addiction’ to the internet. The addiction is simple – it’s all about friends.

In times past, to call someone a friend was only to describe someone you grew up with, a person who had shared experiences and that you knew you could trust, someone you drank with, sang with, laughed with and wept with. These days the term ‘friend’ encompasses so much more.

With society fragmenting the way it has, the ties between communities growing thinner and families being sundered over the slightest disagreement, people have evolved different ways of ‘connecting’.
I’m not saying there aren’t people who still have friendships evolve in the traditional way, I’m just saying that there are now more ways to make and maintain friendships than by growing up on the same block and attending the same educational facilities.
You do not even have to speak to these people every day, or indeed even every week for the relationship to grow. These days people have different friends for different situations – especially in the online community.

“Oh, but that’s not a real friend! a real friend is someone you can always turn to no matter the situation!”

Uh huh… Is that so?
I disagree.
The one thing people all have in common is unreliability, not intentionally – but life has this habit of getting in the way whether we want it to or not.
Friends are just people we know and love to associate with, they all have busy lives, a million claims upon their time and attention – far more than they can just set aside whenever we need a hug and a push up.
I refuse to bother my friends if I know they are going through a tough time themselves or have an important meeting/ proposal/ job interview/ first date or other big thing going on, I’d rather be there for them as support, just as I know they would for me.
With online friends, you know when they’re available to talk without worrying that you are intruding on their time, you can say more in an email than you can in a phonecall because you know that they will answer it the first chance they get.

Now that’s not saying that you can’t call each other just because you’re online (I personally use skype it rocks lol) but just an observation that if you are anything like me, it’s more cathartic to write down whats bugging you than to repeat it ad nauseum to all and sundry and I’d rather have a considered response to my problem than a knee jerk “it’ll be ok” (if I want that response I’ll speak to the boyfriend and demand huggage and much kissage to boot)

The other thing with online friends – sometimes it’s like they can read your mind, I’ve had a couple of rough points and then out of the blue I’ve recieved an e-card ‘just cos’.
It happens when I’ve not even written in my whinge blog that I feel crappy, never mind this one – yet somehow they know.

To me that is a friend.
Someone who knows you so well that they can pick up your state of mind and take a couple of minutes out of their day to send you a quick ‘pick me up’.

One of the best quotes I ever heard that sums up the internet for me is this:

“A stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet”

I truly have no idea where or when this was said, even less of an idea by whom it was first uttered. But it’s pretty much one of the main underpinnings on my outlook of life, from even before I started using the net way back when.
Yes, some strangers are also enemies waiting to strike – but those poor souls I pity, if you don’t like someone then move on – why waste your time and energy with people who neither please nor enrich you. It’s kinda like the blogosphere in that respect, no-one is forcing you to read, be honest with yourself about your likes and dislikes.
Stay true to your ideals and you’ll be a happier person – online or off!
Please, the only thing all your friends have in common is the desire to see you happy, well – that and the desire to be happy themselves *grin*

Actually – if you had to pick 3 quotes to sum up your outlook or ‘philosophy’ of life, what would they be?

Mine would be:

  1. Treat others as you would have them treat you
  2. A stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet
  3. Don’t let the bastards grind you down

I think I shall make a request here – if you’ve read this far, tell me what your 3 would be and explain why you use the internet and what brought you here.

I’d really like to know!

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