How much of my present life is defined by my friends (and more) on the internet?...and it's true. For all the YouTube flash and Amazon cash, the internet is people. It's Morse's and Bell's and Marconi's dreams of connectedness come true. It's grown from the Cold War-era experimenting of university geeks into maybe the most amazing project humanity has undertaken and every day the line between "cyberspace" and "the real world" blurs more and more.
It was a very long, and mostly sleepless night. Rest would not come, nor peace.
There are folks I speak to that have become very dear to me, and I was cut off.
Some eight years ago, while I was still in Atlanta, I had just started posting on a couple of internet bulletin boards, GlockTalk and TheFiringLine. I had an horrific motorcycle accident, and not only were the printed Get Well wishes from forum members a comfort, but while I was recovering and still wheelchair-bound, a guy from the boards who lived in Knoxville drove down to visit on weekends. He and my Ex and I spent those weekends playing Diablo II and chatting, and when I lost my job in the aftermath, the guy from Knoxville offered me the extra bedroom in his apartment ("Not a problem. My rent is the same whether someone's sleeping in that bedroom or not,") and a hand in looking for work here in K-town, so I loaded up my car and moved north.
One of those boards, TheFiringLine, was run by a guy named Rich, now better known as the publisher of SWAT Magazine. Rich had retired early, thanks to his amazing executive skills. Executive skills, of course, number among them the ability to Pick The Right People, and a lot of the people Rich picked to be staff on his board are probably very familiar now, even to people who have never logged onto a gun BBS in their life: Matt, Lawdog, JShirley, Don Gwinn, JPG, Oleg, the aforementioned guy from Knoxville, Kathy, and others. In the intervening years I have managed to meet many of those fine folks in real life and am proud to number them among my friends.
A few years ago, I discovered blogs and decided to try my hand at this blogging thing. Through the medium I've had the privilege of meeting many of the good people from those circles face to face: Les Jones, Say Uncle, Instapundit and Dr. Helen, Michael Silence, Kirk, Countertop, TD, Cowboy Blob. A bunch more have become friends through email. Most recently I trekked northwards to meet Roberta X and be given a gracious guided tour of Indianapolis, a tour I never would have gotten without the magic of this wonderful series of tubes called the internet.
At this very moment, somewhere some pasty-faced academic is sweating out his dissertation on the de-humanizing impact of the 'web. I think he's barking up the wrong tree. How can it be de-humanizing when it's made of people?
It was late on a recent Saturday night, I was in a poopy mood, and I had just updated my blog and toddled off to bed. As my head hit the pillow, the phone rang. On the other end were traffic noises, the muted drone of a cop radio, and a Texas drawl: "Leonard Cohen, Tam? What's wrong?"
Don't tell me it's de-humanizing.
What a wondrous digital world that has such people in it.