This post is inspired by two friends who shared their experiences of finding and learning their way around the Internet. My introduction to the Internet was 1997, while I was a college undergraduate. My family already had computers with word processing and games. So I was already comfortable with computers.
Do you remember the Encarta encyclopedia? I remember getting lost for hours reading about all kinds of topics on the Encarta cds. For me, the internet was like one big cd-rom with all of that information on it. This is one of the things that is so great about the Internet. I am a curious person, so the ability to read about and research any topic I want is wonderful. Also, by the time I was in college I had friends who were living and/or studying all across the country. Getting my first email address enabled me to stay in more frequent touch with friends and family members who lived in all these different places. To this day, along with standard mail, email is my preferred method of keeping in touch with family and friends I don’t see often.
In my experience, people can be skeptical about referring to those you know online as friends. The idea is that you can’t really know someone unless you have met them physically. I disagree, and point to the old practice of pen pals as evidence to the contrary. But I digress…
After email, the next significant way to connect with people is the groups and web forums that sprung up. If it’s a hobby, there is a group about it somewhere on the Internet. I have been a member of a few. And some people I have met from these groups, forums, and social networks have become close friends. One such friend is Tosha. I happened on her page on Myspace and could tell we had a lot in common. Roughly nine years have passed since then, and she is now one of my dearest friends. We talk often since we recently started a podcast called La Literati. She is a fellow bookworm, writer, and introvert; the wise sister I never had. Her quick wit and generous heart are among the many qualities I love about her. We are alike in too many ways to relate here, but different enough to keep each other on our toes. I look forward to our friendship and La Literati partnership for a long time to come.
Then there is my friend, Anna. I met her through a writer and mutual friend, also from Myspace. As an aside, it’s strange talking about Myspace so much because I haven’t even logged in for years. My page is probably gone by now. But back to Anna. She was much younger than I. But she experienced so many hardships during her life. Despite these hardships, over the four years I knew her she filled me and everyone who knew her with love, joy, and the fruits of her creativity. Her poems and stories made you laugh, cry, and feel proud to call her friend. Anna is no longer with us. But I am thankful that the internet allowed us to connect for the time that it did.
Truth is, I could have talked about so many more people in this post. We hear about the dark, dangerous potential on the news often. But it is also able to enrich our lives in wonderful ways. I am thankful for all of the friends I have met because of the World Wide Web.