I've been thinking a lot recently about how we connect with each other, and how as humans most of us need to feel that connection with others. The big connections, the people we love and the people we call family or friends. The little connections, the ones we make when we thank someone for shifting along to give us room to sit on the train. The important connections in between, the acquaintences, workmates, friends and people we chat with over the internet, that enrich our lives. The flipside of this I guess is the sad story I posted yesterday about the woman who sat dead and unmissed in her apartment for two years. Her life must have been lacking in important connections with others, for nobody to seek out what happened to her.
I remember the early days of the internet, back when it was The Internet, the Information Super Highway even, when doomsayers predicted that we would become a race of shut-ins living vicariously through chat rooms and machines, not truly connecting with others. My experience has been the opposite. Blogging and reading other people's blogs, as well as posting pictures and looking at other people's pictures, makes me feel connected to more people than ever before. Sure I couldn't ring any of these people up to cry on their shoulder at 3am, or ask for a loan of $50, but when I chat with people through blog comments or read their entries I feel that I am learning about them, connecting with them. It makes me think of the penfriends I had as a teenager, I cared about them and I felt they cared about me, even if we never met.
Not everyone wants, or is able, to take the next step and meet face-to-face but all the people I have met face-to-face through the internet (through blogging or Flickr) have for the most part been regular folks. The internet also allows people to portray themselves as someone else if they want, maybe who they would like to be, but I think this maybe happens less than the doomsayers predict. It's hard to maintain for a start, and I think most people can start to spot a fake after a while.
A pleasant bonus of connecting with people online has been the 'real life' friends I have made, the ones I can go out with, laugh with and have common ground with. I never expected to find a more serious connection through the internet, but it was the internet that initially brought Morgan and I into circumstances where we could meet, and that has turned out to be a very big connection indeed. Love.