Burningbird spoke today on the subject of the gap between virtual and real life. I may be alone in this, but I don’t draw that line.
It’s partly due to my history. I started going to Internet meets at 17 (A Usenet group – the same one who I met Stuart, Paul, Nick, gilmae, Jason, and seemingly half my blogroll though) and went to many meets, then joined the other group (Alt.fan.pratchett) achieved the state of local god of chocolate and Bailey’s (always useful) and went to AFP meets, conventions, and marriages. I met my wonderful girlfriend (who’s diary is back online) though the group too.
So when the UKBlogs meet happened, I tagged along, met some new people, had fun, and drank beer.
My parents read this weblog. My brothers both read it occasionally, and comment slightly less occasionally (The unexplained “Ben” who appears in the comments section every so often is my brother), and when I discovered this I was a little freaked out for a second. Yes, I do write differently knowing that my mum’s probably going to read this at some stage, but I’m reasonably sure that’s a Good Thing. Recently especially, Aquarionics has been my main reference when looking for employment, and I’ve been extremely glad that for the last year or so (Or in fact since I left Uni) there is less stuff that will pop up “This person is insane” flags in the head of the reader. I’m no less opinionated (I’m not really opinionated at all, except on a few subjects, which is probably why I’ll never be A-List), but I’m also less likely to post things that’ll be able to be used as weapons against me later, with the notable and exceptional exception of the poetry.
There is also the great spectre of the horrible “Online Friends” distinction. Yes, you are likely to know a different version of me though my weblog than in real life (It’s not too far, however. My writing style is close enough to my speaking style that I’ve been complained at by people who know me for them to be able to hear me saying every sentence). Me in real life is slightly more theatrical, less geeky, and more vocally deft than my online style dictates. There is a distinction between online and virtual friends, mostly the same as a pen-pal. You may know each other’s thought processes better than a ‘Normal’ friend (People tend to think differently in text, and explain more) but without the shared experiences. Not better, just different.
The idea, however, that a friend you met online is somehow less of a real friend than anyone you meet at a nightclub (“There aren’t any real people here at all” – DNA) is somewhat ludicrous.
Personally, I find actually meeting people to be a Good Thing. The only danger I’ve ever found is the temptation for Those Who Meet Up to become something of a clique within the larger group, but with the multi-million cliques that divide the weblog community already, who’d notice?