Saturday, June 20, 2009

Virtual Life (Feb. 16, 2006)

Maybe it’s my age, but I’m still regularly astounded by the internet. My kid takes it all for granted, but that’s because he’s never had to spend hour after hour in a dark library digging up some obscure reference for something or another. Gosh, the information and ideas that are readily available at the touch of a button are just amazing.

More amazing to me, though, is the idea of the people at the other end of the cyber-line. You know, there are folks I consider friends that I’ve never even seen, never heard. It’s quite possible that we could pass in a crowded airport and never know each other. (Except that I am a pretty big believer in that intangible something that might make us pause and say, “Have we met?” But I digress.) Anyway, I consider that a true miracle of technology, bringing complete strangers together and giving them a forum from which to build a relationship from nothing but a single common bond. Again, my kid seems to think that’s all pretty commonplace. He’s never amazed if I’m sitting here in Oklahoma, exchanging messages with someone in Chicago or Australia or Washington; he is amazed that there are people anywhere who share my interests.

But, as amazing to me as it is that people can find enough common ground in the ether to become friends, it is more amazing to me that some folks can find so little common ground that they somehow become almost enemies. I mean seriously, can you really form a valid enough opinion of someone you’ve never met to work up true animosity? I don’t know how. An annoyance? Sure. An irritation? Absolutely. But, jeez, something brought you to the same place to begin with; there is a tiny piece of commonality somewhere. You’d think that alone would be enough to maintain a relationship that consists of nothing more than pixels on a screen. But, that just doesn’t always seem to be the case, and it is truly amazing to me.

So, to my virtual friends: thank you. And to any virtual enemies: I wish that it were different. And to virtual strangers: heck, what’re you waiting for? Drop a line and say hello. The results might be amazing.