So, who is this person you’re meeting with tonight?
My husband is asking this, in our hotel room in downtown Los Angeles, as I’m slipping into heels and grabbing my cell phone to go out alone to met this guy, whom I’ve known online for the past three years.
Actually, my husband knew exactly what I was doing. When I decided to tag along on his business trip, I had a goal of meeting at least one, if not more, of my California blogging friends.*
Mostly he was teasing me, that husband of mine. The whole reason we were in California was social media and building online relationships.
He wrote a book about it.
He gets it.
Still, this was something a bit different. It wasn’t a blogger shindig or even a small gathering. It was just two people from opposite sides of the country. This was new territory for me.
Preparing to meet someone who up until now was a two-dimensional image, a string of words, an illusion in some ways, was totally unnerving. But also I’m a bit of a thrill junkie, so doing this seemed all kinds of fun and challenging at the same time.
Have fun on your date, my husband says as the door slips closed behind me.
As I wait for the elevator, I consider the dynamic of online relationships. Are they authentic relationships? What is the difference between an intimacy of words across the miles, and shared space and experience that maybe does not include deep dialog? Is one more valid, more enriching than the other? Do I know some of my online friends better – perhaps more intimately – than the friends I have in real life? You bet. There is safety in distance. Could I have the same one-on-one fun and ease of self in real life with online friends I’d just met, especially without the benefit of a big blogger event? That is the unknown quantity.
When I started a blog almost four years ago, I was on a quest to change the course of my life. I had no idea where the road would take me. Chris’s blog — Dharma Bum — was one of the first few that caught my attention. (Thank you, Foolery. ) He has inspired me in some wildly unexpected, life-changing ways. He continues to do so.
The nature of personal blogging is to share, vent, educate, inform, illuminate — you name it –something with your readers. If I crack open my carefully sealed shell and reveal some things about myself, in return, my online friends do the same and thus if we find common ground, something builds.
So, you ask, how was my Internet date – the first one involving air travel and a leap of faith?
Pretty damn fantastic.
Thank you, Chris, for not being a serial killer or some false persona. Thanks for asking the questions and listening to the answers. Thanks for the inspiration, the motivation, the ideas, and the great dialog. Thanks for feeding my crazy caffeine habit.
I think I found a kindred spirit.
California was pretty nice, too.