In the olden days, you used to have to have met someone face to face at least once to say you knew them, several times before you would call them a friend, and probably quite few more before you would claim to be in love with them. Unless you’re a character in a Mills & Boon novel in which case it would only take the blink of a long-lashed eye and by then your corset would be half way to the barn floor. In fact, if you were to go back far enough, you would only be considered to have met someone until you had been formally introduced, even if you had actually spoken to them face to face several times. Different times.
In these days of the Super Information Highway, “knowing” somebody seems to have taken on quite a different meaning. I quite often start off an amusing anecdote (of which I haves stock of many, in order to provide fascinating conversation any time it may be required), with phrases such as “this guy I know once told me…”, or “a friend of mine was saying just the other day…”. Now, you see, these may actually be people I know from, say, an old job, or my friends from university, but these days, as like as not, it could also be someone I have encountered or even known for some time just over the interwebs. I guess I could explain every time exactly how I know them, but it’s simpler and easier just to refer to them thus. What’s more, quite honestly that’s how I think of them.
On twitter, for example, where you seem to meet people much more easily than facebook, I have witnessed people who have only known each other for a few months helping each other out in real life, exchanging Christmas or birthday gifts and even falling in love. In fact I now know more Internet-made couples than I could count on my fingers, and I’m not even counting those who met on dating sites. So, chance encounters on the web have led to many romances, and quite a few lasting relationships, but for love as for friendship, the ease of talking to people from the other side of the planet can become quite a handicap when it comes to actually meeting people. I think the record among the people I know has to be a Dutch guy who fell for an Australian gal, and they finally made a compromise after many exhausting years of travel and skyping and long distance relationship and moved to the US of A.
Internet shrinks the world, but unfortunately this means that the next random person you encounter on the web might be just round the corner or on the other side of the planet. Where am I going with this exactly? Well, just to the fact that I have met many many interesting people over the last few years, and although I have been lucky enough to travel and meet some of them, there are many many more whom I would like to be a lot closer to, geographically speaking.
Hang on. I’ve written this exact same post before haven’t I? Oh well, at least I’m consistent.