In this modern computer age I have quite a few friends that I haven’t met face to face. In many cases we are a half a world away from each other, and the likelihood of us ever breaking bread is pretty slim. Even so, they’re as dear to me as any partner in crime from college ever was. We banter, we chat, we meet on Facebook or in the virtual world of Second Life. We exchange e-mails. We skype. I have even made several friends through the comments here on my blog. I’ve also connected with distant relatives and reconnected with long lost friends on line. I love being alive at this point in history!
Granted, you can’t always trust what you learn on line. That girl of your dreams might be a fat old truck driver with bushy chest hair pushing out the top of his wife-beater shirt, and pedophiles and perverts love the internet even more than I do. I have met my fair share of crazies, believe you me. But generally speaking, crazy is hard to hide for long. It usually oozes out of the cracks in one’s façade fairly quickly.
But what I love most about meeting people this way is that you skip right over the assumptions and judgments that come along with the usual first impressions. You get past that two foot long beard because you aren’t aware it’s there. Obesity, deformity, race, bad taste in clothes, and really bad cologne do not factor in when you are getting to know someone on line. You aren’t meeting face to face. You are meeting mind to mind.
Within three seconds of meeting an adolescent in Second Life, I can tell. They have no life experience, and therefore very little to contribute to a conversation. I move on. It also doesn’t take much time to determine if you have nothing in common with someone. If someone is pushy, aggressive or rude, they’ll usually be the same way in cyberspace.
But just as in real life, when you click with people, it has nothing to do with the physical. It’s their sense of humor, their integrity, their intelligence and their point of view that makes you like them. You have a better chance of meeting these gems on line, because you won’t discount them for their scary biker attire or their severe facial scarring.
Whether we’re willing to admit it or not, we’ve all dismissed someone due to our assumptions based on their appearance. What opportunities have we missed for life long friendships? The internet is the great equalizer in this instance, and I’m forever grateful for the many friends I’ve made through its agency.