‘You shouldn’t meet up with someone you’ve met on the Internet,’ Husband advised.
I started laughing: ‘I know her real name, I know all about her life, I know where she works, and I’ve seen pictures of her.’
‘Some crazies play the long game,’ Husband teased.
‘Haha…’ But as I walked away I started picturing Billygean as a 50-year-old man, with a pot belly, and unsavoury plans for me (sorry Billygean!).
Before blogging entered my life, I’d never chatted to people online I didn’t know. I did use Facebook, but all my friends were people I actually knew in real life, even if I hadn’t seen them for sometime. But since I have started my blogging adventure, it has become normal to interact with people who I have never met. Most of the people who read The Reinvention Tour are people I don’t know in the real world; the daily conversations I have on Twitter are all with people I only know virtually.
But this strange thing happens online (especially if someone blogs): you are on the fast track ‘get-to-know-me’ programme. As they share their lives – and sometimes innermost thoughts – you know all these personal details about someone, even though you have never actually met them.
Now I am a slightly paranoid person (or sensible, if you are feeling kind): I check rooms, windows and locks before bed; I won’t let anyone into the main gate of the apartment block without seeing ID; if footsteps are too close behind me I cross the road; I keep my handbag in view at all times. City living makes you this way, I think (and a taste for dark and twisted films fuels this paranoia nicely). And as a woman, for personal safety, I think it’s good to have a healthy dose of paranoia.
Meeting someone I only know from the Internet is something which should have set those paranoid bells ringing. But it didn’t.
I have known Billygean for a couple of years now: we read each other’s blogs – so we have certainly been on the ‘get-to-know-me’ fast track programme – and we chat regularly on Twitter; I felt like I knew her.
We’ve talked about meeting up before, but schedules never allowed – until Monday. As I walked towards her office I felt excited but also a little nervous: I have never met someone from the Internet before! And I think if you’d told me that I would do this prior to blogging, I would have thought it was a weird scenario. But it didn’t feel weird, it felt like a perfectly normal thing to do.
We are both ourselves online, so real life was just like an extended Twitter conversation; it was like meeting with a girlfriend I have known for a while – no awkward first time silences, easily flitting from one topic to another, lots of laughter. And nothing was out-of-bounds for this first meeting, oh no, we stomped all over those boundaries many blog posts ago.
Blogging has brought so many wonderful people into my life (and yes that includes YOU), people who I would never have crossed paths with otherwise. And in my experience, most people online are genuine, just like in real life. Of course, just like in real life, there is the odd crazy person, the person who in real life I would cross the road to avoid, who online I press delete on or block.
But this occasion did not require avoid, delete or block; it was another lovely present from the blogging world. So Billygean, thank you for making my first time special.
I’m fascinated to know whether you have met up with online friends? How was your first time? If you haven’t, would you?