Friends: Real and Virtual
So many people have taken to the keyboard before me, but perhaps I can add something new. The Internet Love Story – I know it too – both extremes.
I should probably start with the fact that as with many others, my life has changed entirely with the Internet, as probably I have also changed. Until I tried it myself, I could not understand what could be so good that my friend was willing to spend hours in front of (or is it behind) the green monitor screen, and then I logged on. At that time it was somewhat unusual that a female wondered into a chat room so I received a warm welcome and quickly became the favorite of the channel. When I was able to log on once a week they were waiting for me, were glad to have me there and helped with everything. It was wonderful, a great change for me. All my life I’ve been a somewhat introverted person and unless someone talked to me I did not initiate conversations. It was this that changed entirely! On the Internet you do not have a face nor does anyone else and you are free to address any topics with anyone, you can argue, dream, shed your prejudices and talk about anything you want to – it is an entirely free arena! I must admit that in the beginning I’ve gone overboard a bit and my virtual friends and relationships became more important than my immediate surroundings – but what can I do? It was more interesting.
This is where the problems began. My initial account was through my then friend and he began to get jealous when in a short time I became more popular than he, who’s been doing this sort of thing for years. Then of course there were other things, I mean another person, who’s been in the chat room from the first time and helped. We talked a lot and I felt that we were getting closer to each other all the time. I sensed that this virtual someone whom I’ve never seen or talked with live, is beginning to be more important then my friend. Now I know that this was merely the ‘last straw’ that allowed me to recognize that my present relationship would never be a real love and that we should probably let each other go. I was able to ‘terminate’ that relationship and then I did not care that the other party was not able to accept it, didn’t understand it and didn’t want it, all I was interested in that it’d be over and soon. My (ex-boyfriend knew about my virtual friend and it was especially difficult for him for that reason because it is difficult to win against a nickname.
Although he is Hungarian, my virtual friend lived in a neighboring country, but the 350 km distance was not a problem. We’ve exchanged photos, dreamed, missed each other and eventually confessed our love to each other. It was fantastic. If someone else told me this story I would not have believed that such thing is possible. At that time nothing mattered, not the distance not the lack of personal contact, nor what the person looks like in real life. I thought I could overcome my prejudices. Now I know that I can’t.
The story is not so simple, however, there came another virtual ‘relationship’ which began differently from the first. The first time we talked I hated him, after the second I thought he was interesting and after the third I fell in love J We exchanged real letters on paper, and that is a lot more personal than staring at the uniform keys of the PC. We exchanged photos and both of us were bowled over by the other. The dream boat that I want!! He wrote poetry, I liked his thoughts, I liked his soul, I liked him inside and out. What else do you need? BUT there was the “1st” virtual friend with whom the meeting date was drawing near.
We were to meet at a larger Internet gathering. I was anxious and at the same time feared it. Even in the last minute I thought it would be best not to go, but my curiosity got the best of me. We didn’t agree to anything, we would recognize each other. This did not happen at first, when I first saw him, I debated that I should go home instead, or something like that, but realized that it would not be fair. We finally met in person …. and .. . I didn’t like anything about him. I didn’t like his appearance, not even a little, or his gestures, nothing! It is pretty difficult to overcome one’s prejudices in a situation like this. I’ve had strange feelings about it. In a virtual setting the whole thing seems covered over with pink, but I couldn’t be neutral about him, I loved him, up until now, that is.
By evening things loosened a bit, and we looked as though we were a little more then friends, but the evening passed and we headed in opposite directions. The virtual will remain. I was so mixed up, didn’t know what I should fee, whether there was any reason to feel anything. Retreat, the IRC again, e-mail and there were a couple of calls…..
About a week later my “2nd” virtual friend visited me and with him everything was perfect. I liked him in all his reality the only problem was that actually neither one of us was available. (As we later agreed, Anything could have happened if we didn’t care about anybody else!) Later we met again at a birthday party where initially I didn’t want to go because I didn’t know anybody, but he convinced me that he doesn’t get here very often. Weave spent the entire day together until the party and we had a great time. We even thought about not going to the party, but we did, and I now know it was the right thing to do!
It was at that party that I met my current friend, more accurately that is where I saw him first. Basically we never spoke, but his cute, little boy face and the lovely smile touched me. There were pictures … and then the next party came where I saw him again. I was glad when he appeared, looked at the pictures and we spoke some, said farewell, exchanged pecks on the cheek – and I was completely charmed. As we later discovered, we both felt that something right then and there happened between the two of us.
About a month later I saw his address on a list but I was not certain it was him. I wrote and he responded. We corresponded rather intensively and after a week of letters he decided to visit me – no specific reason, he had nothing else to do. We walked, talked, went to a place where they had music and dancing…..we were on track.
The reason I told the story was that this happened over a year ago. We are together ever since even though in the beginning no one predicted any kind of a future for the two of us saying that Internet relationships end quickly. In our case it was different, our love is still strong and the number of kilometers still don’t matter. I’ve not seen my former friend in person since then. We do see each other on the net occasionally and he was insulted. I know I’ve hurt him, he is mad at me and it was difficult for him to get over what happened; I’ve also not seen my 1st virtual friend since then; and with the 2nd virtual friend we’ve met several times since and continue to correspond, we talk and he became my best friend. It would be difficult to accurately describe our situation, we are very important to each other.
The reason I sat down to the keyboard was that most of the stories I read talked about relationships that are ‘already’ 2 months old. Here is another example where after a year it is still working. Of course I saw and experienced the contrary where the perfectly aligned virtual relationship merely lost its mystique with the personal meeting. My favorite quote is: “It is not to get what you want, but to want it still once you get it.”
Many people say that the Internet and the world of computers generally tends to isolate people and after a while we think only in bytes, not able to step out of their own little world. I too had a period where I did nothing but write e-mails all day, but realized that the real relationships are more important. In my case, the computers not only didn’t isolate me, but made me more outgoing. I have an easier time making friends in the real world, I have many friends, I’m more open and my life is more colorful.