Meeting An Old Friend (For the First Time)

I’ve written here before about being an early adopter/adherent of the wonderful web world online and its attendant technologies, with my own website circa 1993 and a blog since 2000. This makes me a dinosaur in web years, a fact reinforced by my continued active involvement with a small, long-in-the-tooth e-mail list community administered by the host of my website, Wilson S of Xnet2. (If I’m a web dinosaur, then Wilson is actually a web trilobite, since he goes back to online communication systems even more primordial than the first ones in which I dabbled). Do most of you even know how an e-mail list works? I’m guessing not . . .

A lot of blog discourse here and elsewhere relates to the sense of community that’s built among those who comment on and those who post on various websites today. These communities can become very close, in a virtual sense, and sometimes actually manage to get together in the real world to turn electronic relationships into flesh and blood ones. (In olden dinosaur and trilobite days, these sorts of meetings were called “RLCOs,” which was sort of an acronym for “Real Life Conferences.”) If you’re a member of such a community, then you’ll appreciate how well you can get to know your fellow members over a relatively short period of time.

Now: imagine that your community has fewer than a dozen members, but has been together for more than a dozen years. That’s the Xnet2 Liste, where some of us have been communicating via group e-mails or (earlier) message boards on a daily-to-weekly basis about lots of stuff for as long as 17 years. There’s a really profound degree of connection there, despite the fact that most of us rarely, if ever, co-exist in the same space. (Two of our members were from Australia, to cite but one complicating factor; one of them is still with us, and one, sadly, passed away before her time, out there in the real world).

Tonight, however, my Xnet2 friend from Ohio, Robert B (a.k.a. Reverend Goat, hot noisemaker with XterminalX, who once covered my song “Belaboring the Necroequine”), found himself passing through Albany on his way to Maine with his lovely wife, so we met for dinner, occupying the same physical space for the first time in the 12 or 13 years that we’ve been online colleagues and compatriots. It’s a neat experience to lay eyes and bestow a hug upon someone who I feel I know incredibly well, but have never actually touched, in the real world, before.

So as you putter about here in the blogosphere, consider the fact that the connections you make may actually be incredibly durable and long-lasting. Don’t screw ’em up, y’hear?

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