July 24th, 2006

Leviathan meets the Incredible Hulk

I was wrong about that...

I've heard people claiming to have fallen in love over the Internet.

I've never believed that. You can't, I thought, have an actual relationship over the net! I mean, I have people I know from the Internet who I enjoy corresponding with, who I share intrests with, whose senses of humor I enjoy, and I call them "friends," but they're not really friends. I'm well-disposed towards them, I have a certain level of affection for them, if one dies -- a fellow named Lachlan A. McGrath, for instance, from Texas, left GI-jOE collecting circles through cancer a couple of years ago -- I feel a bit sad. But it's sadness on about the same level I feel if I hear of an actor I kind of enjoy but aren't really a "fan" of has passed away. That's not friendship in any real sense of the word. I have friends who I communicate with mainly here on-line, but they're all people I know from real life.

Until now.

The other night, I read a blog of someone in another country, someone I've only ever communicated with by blogs, fanfic reviews, and IMs. It was a Meme that's currently going around, 35 personal questions and answers. And the juxtaposition of two of those question/answer pairs led to a deeply disturbing conclusion, and it was like my heart dropped out of me.

For this person I've never seen, whose voice I've never heard, from this mere source of words on the Internet.

I left them an off-line IM, just to let them know what I'd pieced together, just to tell them I was glad they were here -- well, there, really.

Well, I woke up God's Own Early yesterday morning, and at about quarter past four, they IMed me back, going for a bright, reassuring tone, and we spent about the next two hours talking, seriously, about stuff that matters, and what we were there, what we really were, is friends. Not people who chat over the Internet and call it friendship even those it doesn't matter: Real, living, breathing, loving, open, genuine, honest-to-God friends.

I have an actual relationship. Over the Internet. With someone I have never seen, never spoken with. It's not romantic love -- which, what with me having a flesh-and-blood wife and all, is probably just as well -- but it is real love nonetheless. It matters. It matters the same way my relationship with Leaf or Geoff matters. And it's all just 'net.

So I was wrong about that.