Friday 20 May 2011

Internet friends and lovers

Jeez, he looks grumpy!
Adrian is perplexed.  While he’s been in Moscow, I’ve been meeting my Internet pals.  He just doesn’t *get* my love of internet ‘relationships’.  Yes, he blogs, he tweets, he FBs – but only because he feels he ‘ought to’ for work.  He frowns at tweet-ups, he doesn’t remotely understand why I keep meeting people I haven’t, er, met.

‘It’s like online dating,’ he said, sitting on the end of the bed.  ‘Except without the sex bit.’ Shaking his head.  ‘I don’t get that either.’

‘Aha,’ said I, sitting up and adjusting the SP.  ‘Now, see, if I were single, I’d do that like a shot.’
‘God no.’ He shuddered. ‘It’s not natural.’
‘Oh come on.  It’s practical.’ I put down my coffee cup so I could wave my arms around. ‘Look. Imagine I don’t exist.  Nothing nasty – I haven’t died or anything.  I’m just Not Here. In fact, let’s take James out of the equation too and make it simple.  You live here. Alone. Who you gonna date?’
‘I’d move,’ he said briskly. ‘I’d go to…hmm….Bristol. I’d go to pubs and clubs…’
I raised an eyebrow.  ‘No, you wouldn’t.’
He shrugged.  ‘Okay, I’d go to pubs and museums. I’d stalk women in military museums.’  Dear God.
‘Right.  But say you couldn’t move.  Say you worked here?’  I named names. He looked alarmed.
‘See? It’s not easy once you’re out of your twenties.’ I keep saying this to my mate who just wants a nice man with a labrador.  She doesn’t buy it, the Internet dating thing – but then she doesn’t do Twitter or FB or anything other than the odd brusque email.  Maybe the world is divided into those who click and those who don't... ;)
‘And it’s the same with friends,’ I continued.  ‘I know lovely people here but I can’t always talk about the stuff I need to – about writing, about books, about mad spiritual/mystical stuff.  They’d think I’d gone bonkers.’  His turn to raise an eyebrow.
‘Hence online friends.’
‘Okay, I get that,’ he said.  ‘But then you go and meet them.’
‘Not all of them,’ I pointed out.  ‘But yeah, why not?’

See, I’m fascinated by people online and particularly by how online personae can be so different from RL.  I was talking about this with Jake and the lovely M (his wife) yesterday – how some people are exactly the same on and offline while others are, frankly, unrecognisable. 

‘Anyhow,’ said Adrian.  ‘If you were here alone, who would you shag?’ 
Shag?  Don’t you love the way women say 'date' and men say 'shag'?  He named names.  My eyes widened. 
‘Oh, I don’t know…’ I said with an evil smirk.
He lobbed his croissant at me. The SP neatly intercepted.  I grinned and picked up my coffee cup.

But, seriously…if you wanted to meet a partner, would you consider Internet dating?  Anyone tried it and a) loved it b) loathed it?

How many of your online friends have you met in real life? Were they how you imagined?   

And, before I go.  The ila competition.  I decided, in the end, that I couldn’t just give all that gorgeousness to one person. So I talked to ila and we split the prize.  The SP was the most fragrant creature I could find so he plonked his paw on these guys:  Zenandtheartoftightropewalking, Tiger Princess, Posie and Preseli Mags


Anonymous said...

I have met a number of people from the internet and generally they have been more or less exactly as they seemed.
Dating? Well, I have never dated in my life(yes, I know I am married but that was totally different. We just got engaged more or less instantly)
But yes, I probably would.
The metaphorical gene pool is just too shallow in one location.
thank the SP for me!!

Sessha Batto said...

It must be a fundamental difference between men and women - just this week I've had three separate on-line friends call me and say 'talk to my husband and prove that you're real . . . oh, and, while you're at it, explain how you can be friends with someone you've never actually met.'

Personally I'm overjoyed that the internet allows me to find people I actually can have an intelligent conversation with ;) I haven't had much luck doing so in the 'real' world!

Alison Cross said...

Congrats to the winners of the lovely Ila stuff!!!

Have you read Katie Piper's book, 'Beautiful'? Absolutely terrifying what happened to her - all through a few dates with some nutter that befriended her on Facebook.

I have got lots of lovely friends, only known on-line, whom I can talk to about anything at all. And I class them as Real Friends. Tartarus doesn't get it either, so your hubby is not alone.

Ali x

The mum of all trades said...

really interesting post. i think women are just a bit more open to forming friendships with people as well

Jen said...

Hmm, even though we don't know each other well, I've known you longer than most online, back when you were j*******x on a certain MonthYear forum. And yet we've never met - we should do something about that sometime, it's been 12 years for gawds sake, I think we know by now we're not going to stab each other.

No internet dating, as I met husband before the tinternet existed and it would be bad form to do so now.

But I have met some people IRL: some of the people from the aforementioned group, one from Belgium who I met in France, one from Ottawa who I met in Montreal (see the inbuilt safety there!), the same one from Ottawa who took in our family of three when we got stuck in the US after 9/11 and she said just get here and I'll put you up as long as needed, and then a few other Canucks from a different forum who I met up with after getting married in Canada.

Then there's been a few Americans who have come over here and I have allowed into my house, one of whom became a really good friend, oddly a better friend after I let her into my house, which is rare.

Maggie Christie said...

Big kiss to SP from me too I'm glad he intercepted the croissant.

This post made me laugh - I really love the idea of single men wandering hopefully around military museums.

I had a tweet up with three friends yesterday - one met via children, the other two via the internet and all lovely.

Of course I've met you too and you were exactly as gorgeous as expected. xx

PS Why oh why is the word verif chips? Have I had mine?

Shu said...

My hubby the same, Jane, and yet he enthusiastically strikes up conversations with complete strangers all the time in the 'real' world. He is gregarious and likes learning about new people but somehow looks askance at me 'meeting' like-minded people on the internet.

Or maybe it's just me on the internet he's not sure about....!

historywriter said...

I've "met" some lovely people on-line. Some are so far away, I'm not sure if I'll ever meet them, but several I have met in person. All writers, of course.

Lisa Scullard said...

I'm on dating sites on and off, but have never met anyone through that. Had one or two dates, but there was no click - it was an almost instant "this is someone I'd never normally meet or talk to" feeling on both sides, so that's rather sad. But I have the guilt feeling that if I'm not on there and 'he' is, it might be the only way to meet. I don't message first either, because to men that's like saying your back door is unlocked and you walk around the house naked. Unfortunately, I used to work with guys in a very male environment, and hear their opinions of women who make the first approach (everything you read in "The Rules" and "He's Just Not That Into You" is true) so it's not worth risking unless you actually are into that sort of thing with no future commitment...

But I love meeting up with Internet friends, especially writers, who are all as fun and witty and intelligent as you could wish for - and I consider them friends in real life also, seeing as I live 100's of miles from where I went to school, and missed all of their weddings and stuff like that - I think because they were waiting for me to have one first and invite them. Sadly, a very long wait - and I'll be 40 in July and no-one to share that with either. No different to all the others, but by now, you sort of expect things to have changed...

Internet dating sites have become more like chatrooms now with very little 'dating' in real life and a whole ton of people just 'chatting' - but for me, conversation grinds to a halt when the subject hits relationships, having never had one. It seems that without writing and creative interests to share, there's very little else folk on those sites are discussing.

Unlike writer sites, blogs and Twitter, where anything goes and I can randomly chat away happily without the stigma of a relationship agenda hovering around. The same as meeting up in person. Whenever the subject comes up I do tend to have a mini online-meltdown and rant about having nothing to say on the subject, but in real life I'm more likely to keep my mouth shut, change the subject, and go home and cry later.

So I would say, if you are thinking of trying online dating, don't leave it too long - I haven't met anyone yet in 12 years of dating sites. They do work for some, but there are no guarantees. It's exactly the same as real life in that sense.

Personally, I found that through working in the hospitality industry that I prefer to get to know people face-to-face as they're easier to read and figure out quicker if there are connections. Like I said at the start of this epic comment - you can meet someone for the first time after emailing quite amicably and then feel there's actually nothing there connecting you as individuals in person - as if they were your bank manager, or builder - so I think the internet is just another manifestation of the serendipity of two people meeting who were meant to meet anyway, if it works. It's not a short-cut, and definitely not an easy alternative to hanging around bars or museums ;) xxx

jazzygal said...

Hi...just came across your blog via Mum in Meltdown!

My hubby doesn't get social media stuff either. He gets worried when I meet up with people,like you say, I haven't met and thinks they're all axe-murderers or something!! I've doen it so often now he's kinda calmed down about it!

Social media has literally opened up a whole new world for me and I love it!

xx Jazzy

Sam Fox said...

Well dear girl, I think you know which side of the debate I support! But for those that don't know me - I live in rural NZ and most days would see no-one but my cat and my husband briefly at the beginning and end of each day. I was LONELY for the kind of kindredship I craved but found it through making internet friends, mostly in UK, and also from other countries. Then my husband was diagnosed with cancer and we spent a nightmare year of treatments and heartrending disappointments - my internet friends gave me wonderful support EVERY day. When my husband died you were all fabulous and I don't think I would have managed without you all. I haven't met any of you but we have talked on the phone and you certainly felt like "real" friends to me! Then, after time, I felt it was right to start dating again - I was 45. Who would I meet here through everyday means? You have to be kidding! There is absolutely NO WAY! Although my neighbours around the area are great - very few are "in the same head-space" as myself - mainly because I don't consider myself to be a through and through rural type. I like a healthy dose of concrete and culture from time to time. So I tried online dating. I met some idiots, some players, some simply pleasant but not my type - and then I met Dave - the Absolute Love of My Life. And only then did I understand what soulmate really means... we were married 5 months to the day of our initial meeting and we are so in love it burns your eyeballs! So a Big Fat YES for online friends and dating from me! And I know plenty of others who have met their partners in the same way!

Laura - Are We Nearly There Yet Mummy? said...

I met the t'usband online.

I also met a few freaks before I met him, but we'll gloss over that. I lived to tell the tale.

That was ten years ago when online dating was considered weird. Before I met him in person I knew everything about him already.

I met you and those other lovelies who I now consider some of my closest friends during our blogger trip. Oh how we larrrfed.

If I were single again, god forbid, I wouldn't think twice about internet dating. I like to think I'd be better at sifting through the freaks though now!

Mrs Worthington said...

Firstly how bizarre that the last comment was from my sister! Dating, have done it reluctantly but several months on still with Hot Date so work that one out. Haven't met any other bloggers yet but would love to just need to do something about it. If I didn't blog n tweet I think I'd be locked up by now

John said...

The internet is a people created extension of life. Why shouldn't we do everything on it?

Evangeline said...

The world is changing. Some people are embracing it. Others aren't.

I once flew to Toronto from the UK to meet someone. We hadn't even Skyped!

Ended up in bed together that first night.

But then I used to be a bit of a tramp. These days I'm actually a bit of a recluse.

The one thing that concerns me is how some people get so wrapped up in their online world, they neglect their other world. I know some mothers who get pissed with their kids because they're interrupting their valuable 18 hours a day on the interweb. Ditto, I imagine their husbands.

The interweb seems to make everything easier. Not just the good stuff.

beano54 said...

a great blog, just wondered is the ila comp still open, would love to enter this not tried this range
thank you

Exmoorjane said...

beano - tried to answer on your blog but can't find a, sorry, the competition is closed now and the prizes are winging their way. I'll try to do another one at some point as the ila products are seriously gorgeous.

The bike shed said...

Quite topical this post for me.

I know a number of bloggers from writing courses I've attended, but that's different because I met them first, then read their blogs.

Working the other way round, Michelle 'VP' from Veg Plotting lives up the road and she called by recently - she's due to come round this week too.

Then at the weekend Jane and I met the very generous and welcoming 'Her on the Hill' in the Peak District (one of your followers) . We had a lovely afternoon together as families - and you should see the view from her house: wow!

KT said...

Here is a fun US blog on internet dating:

The author is a friend of mine who really is IRL as she appears in the blog only maybe with more attitude. I know a couple couples who have been long married who began as invisible friends, as I call them. Meeting invisibles is half the fun.

MommyHeadache said...

I have met people via the internet and met them in real world and generally they have been quite nice and as I thought they'd be. But I have also met a lot of people online who turned out to be nuts and sort of sucked me into believing they were normal. So since then I am wary of becoming friends with people on the internet who misrepresent themselves and much prefer meeting new friends face to face the old fashioned way.