Sunday, July 13, 2008

Warm Fuzzies

I've changed a lot over the past year. Without getting all philosophical and talking about my mental state, the biggest change is how important the internet has become to me. A year ago I'd never visited an online forum, never posted a message on a blog, and certainly never made friends with people online. Are they even real people? What kind of person has friends online? And so forth.

Clearly my opinion has changed. I'm not saying I ever thought there was something wrong with having online friendships, heavens no. It was something I'd never looked into and, frankly, I didn't understand how it worked. So you go to a chat room and become friends with people? It seemed so foreign. I'm a very social person and not knowing what a person looks like seemed like quite an obstacle, albeit a superficial one.

Last August, almost a year ago, I decided to dip my toe in the writing world and my cousin Jenna emailed me a list of her favorite writing blogs. People blog about writing? I devoured the sites and clicked, clicked, clicked my way to a writing forum, Absolute Write. To say AW has helped me would be an understatement. Besides learning an overwhelming amount about writing, I've become friends with people that like me for what I have to say, not because of my haircut or the clothes I wear. I'm not saying my meatspace friendships are based on that, but online, people form their opinions based on your words, especially a in writing community.

I started this blog last October through the encouragement of Janna (remember that, Janna?)(she has two blogs), and have made more friends through Blogland. Spyscribbler recently commented how nice it is that her online friends all read a lot of the same blogs, and I agree. Conversations carry over between sites and we've created a community within the larger online writing world.

The point I'm trying to get to is I never imagined that I'd become so dependent, so reliant, on people I've never met. You make me laugh, you bring me to tears, you make me think, you've made me snort water out my nose, and best of all, you fill me with hope. Hope for my writing "career", hope for my future, everything. I've turned to advice from people I only know from the pictures they post and words on a screen, but it's helped me through the dark times.

The emails, reps, and comments I received about Ibis's graduation made this all hit home. So many people sent their congratulations - and advice for the jerky director - for the husband of a woman they've never met, and that really touched me. Thank you, all of you, for being there. I hope I can return the favor.

25 comments:

spyscribbler said...

Aww, now you've gone and made me cry. Even though DH and I met online, he totally doesn't get it.

All my local college friends moved away after college, or abandoned me when I was sick. (I can't blame them: I couldn't remember what I was saying in the middle of a sentence, let alone keep up with them!)

At that time, I read a couple forums but never participated. They were still my friends and my comfort, in a way. So was Star Trek: Voyager and Deep Space Nine. Isn't that silly? But at the time, it was all I could do.

I will admit that many times I've met online friends and the difference between how they look and how you imagine them is jarring. But I like that. I would've never considered a guy 26 years older than me; but having developed a relationship online, I fell in love with his soul and his mind and heart without prejudice.

Same with online friends: no prejudice. And I can't be friends with my students' parents, it just doesn't work that way. So who am I going to meet? No one, really.

WendyCinNYC said...

Aw, that IS warm and fuzzy.

One of the things I like most out of various blogs and AW is hearing from a wide variety of voices. Most of my real life friends are either from L.A. or N.Y.C., and while we are different in many ways, we share more similarities than I would prefer. It's always interesting to hear perspectives from all over--as far as Sri Lanka sometimes. Or Mexico!

Melanie Avila said...

Spy, that's a good word: prejudice. Where were you half an hour ago? lol. You're right, I'm friends with people that had we met in the real world, we may never have gotten past hello. I like that the internet does away with the surface things.

I haven't met anyone yet, but I did recently discover one of my friends is bald (shaves it) and that really threw me!

Melanie Avila said...

Wendy, it makes sense that we gravitate towards people with similar lives - my friends back home would fit your description as well. I love the varied lives of our online group.

Stephen Parrish said...

for the husband of a woman they've never met

But we have met, don't you see? We're blogging buddies!

When you put your feelings into words, convert the words to electrons, and fire the electrons into Blogtopia for unknown hundreds or thousands of strangers to see, you implicitly ask for trust and compassion just as if you'd met us all face to face. The technology is different, but the relationships are, or at least can be, just as powerful.

Or maybe we just feel sorry for you.

Ha ha ha ha ha.

Janna Qualman said...

Aw. *snort, sniffle* You've made my eyes well up. I totally agree with every word. And allow me to join in (I'll take the harmony) to sing AW's praises.

I do remember! I was just thinking about, literally two or three days ago, how you and I have been blogger buddies from the beginning. I'd posted on AW, wanting guidance to get started, and then you and I sort of jumped in together. Look at how far we've come!

Melanie Avila said...

Stephen, that's a good point. I guess it's still a little strange for me because it still feels new.

I hope people don't read because they feel sorry for me! I keep all the pity-party comments to my handwritten journal. Unless my husband gets an urge to broadcast (he has no interest in reading it) I should be safe.

Melanie Avila said...

Janna, I know I pushed you, then you put it up so quickly I figured I couldn't back out.

*raises glass of water*

Here's to blogging buddies! :D

Janna Qualman said...

PS. Knowing he shaves his head bald brings out his personality even more, don't you think? :)

Janna Qualman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melanie Avila said...

Yes! My mental picture - you know, the one where he's hugging Dubya - was all goofy after that.

Janna Qualman said...

That sneaky baseball cap wearing dork...

lol

Zoe Winters said...

hehe, I know what you mean, I have an unposted blog post in my queue along these lines of how much I love the online writing community. It is like a weird family of sorts. And I totally get what you mean about people liking you for what you have to say. I think that's got to mean probably a lot more for a writer. But I noticed when I first got involved in forums online, they weren't writing forums and some people would gravitate to me because they liked what I had to say. And it was so unbelievably cool that we were all equal here.

There were no social classes of driving this car, or having that super cool laptop. People knew what you told them, and it really didn't matter. (Those that went on about what kind of car they drove quickly got shot to the curb for the show-offs they were, unless of course it was a car forum and the discussion was applicable.)

There's this big underdog vibe on the internet. Where geeks are cool, and unpublished writers are worth reading too. I love it.

Nadine said...

Thank you for sharing your life with us! Although I infrequently comment, I always read your postings. It hits home especially to me as I also recently moved to a place where I didn't know anyone and where life was different from what I had known.

It's funny cause through AW and other sites, I have made friends that I have never met, although hopefully one day I will! It's great to connect with people that have similar interests in common.

Ed Pahule said...

Bwahahahaha! Now you're one of us! Our insidious plan to take over the world is coming to fruition.

:D

Yeah, I remember how I used to hear stories of people who said they had online friends and I'd think, "What a wacko."

Laurie Ashton said...

Hey! I'm guessing I'm the Sri Lankan chickie who was mentioned! Or, rather the voice from Sri Lanka as I'm not actually Sri Lankan! Cool! :D

I also met my husband online - from halfway around the world. And many other friends, too. For me, it's also because I'm an introvert and easily get overwhelmed at real life shindigs and going out. Online, I can interact as much as I want to when I want to, so it's much more comfortable and much easier. And yes, being a geek helps. :D

Turkey Lurkey said...

Sorry I missed your graduation post! I was camping this weekend.

You are totally right about online friendships. Where else can you find a twin? :)

(hugs)

colbymarshall said...

-Hugs across the blogosphere- I love "knowing" people in blogland, too. It's so nice to know there are others out there doing the same crazy writing thing I am.

Melanie Avila said...

Zoe, exactly. Being writers, we put more emphasis on what we say (and more pride) so it's even cooler when we make friends because of it.

Melanie Avila said...

Nadine, it's nice to know others are going through the same thing as me. It's tough being cut off from everything & everyone I know, but you all make it easier.

Melanie Avila said...

Ed, I think you're the wacko I was afraid of. ;) Now where's my cheese?

Melanie Avila said...

Laurie, I didn't realize you met your husband online. It's happening more and more these days.

You're reasons for using the internet to make friends are the same reasons I never did. I'm a very social person and have never had a problem meeting people in meatspace (lol), that's why this seemed so foreign to me. Now I couldn't imagine my life without it!

Melanie Avila said...

Turkey! You ARE my twin! :D

WendyCinNYC said...

Yes, Laurie, that's you I was talking about.


You're famous!

Laurie Ashton said...

Yay! Wendy said I'm famous!!!! :D


Melanie, our story can be found here. Make sure you're sitting down. :D

As a side note, one of my best friends met her husband online as well, and another best friend has two other best friends who also met online. Yup, it's really becoming common.