Monday, June 4, 2007

Imaginary Friends

When I was young, at a time when thinking about the meaning of life seemed like a worthwhile pursuit--and when I actually had TIME for such things--I remember wondering briefly whether other people actually existed or whether, a little along the lines of Jim Carey's The Truman Show, everyone I saw was either (1) a figment of my imagination; or (2) actors in some production of my life. (Yeah, odd, I know! LOL!) Of course, I soon figured out that the story line wasn't interesting enough for a sustained production of Kim's Life, so I fairly quickly discarded that notion.

I guess if "seeing is believing," perhaps we can never be absolutely, 100 percent certain that the people we chat with on the telephone or online truly exist. Still, I'm pretty darn sure this isn't just some big dream sequence I've imagined. You who are reading this--you ARE real, right?

So, I was thinking about this idea I've seen here and there in Blogland of "imaginary friends," a term that is used to describe the people we chat with online but we never really "know" because they don't live in the same neighborhood we do, and we don't get together with them--in person--on a regular basis. And, while I certainly understand the concept behind the term "imaginary friends," I really think the idea may be more the perception of people who don't spend much time online and don't know what wonderful friendships can develop.

Yesterday, I mentioned my good friend Diane who had passed away. Diane and I never met in person, but I'm sure when I'm old and gray(er!) and looking back on my life, I'll number Diane among those friends who meant quite a lot to me. In fact, many of my closest friends are those I've met online. What does that say about me? Maybe it's my hunchback and missing eye. Well, no, actually I think I'm reasonably normal in appearance. But it may be that more ideas are exchanged in writing online than in person, because we chat through blogs or e-mail fairly often, and we do so on our own schedule, when we have time--not, as so often happens, when we run across an acquaintance, in person, and only have a few minutes to "catch up" before we have to rush off somewhere else. Our personalities come through in our words, and we reveal thoughts, ideas, dreams, and hopes that we may not blurt out to our acquaintances.

I have a few close friends, like Kathy and Lisa, who have been around long enough to know quite a lot about me, and me about them. I met them the "old fashioned" way. But I also have several close friends from my online group, and I know they aren't imaginary, because I have been lucky enough to attend two retreats with many them; also, two of my friends from our group flew out to stay with me for a quilt shop hop last year. Yep, they were real.

To me, the people I meet online are just as real as the people I see day in and day out in my office. We may never become more than acquaintances, but the potential for friendship is there--maybe even more so with those of you I meet online since many of us share a common hobby/interest. Who knows? But I do know that I appreciate you stopping by to visit me here in Blogland, especially when you leave me comments--that way, I know you're not imaginary!


Greenmare said...

Hi Kim, it's me the not imaginary friend from WI!
You said it all!
and good luck with that stupid carrot bread too!

sharon said...

Hi Kim,
It's me, your newest "imaginary friend". You know the one who is one with the cows of this world. Yes that's me. I'm glad we met thru blogland and have been chatting. Seems like I've known you for a long time already. Thanks for the new friendship.

Happy Valley Quilter said...

I feel blessed to have so many online friends. And I'm glad to be counted amongst yours!

Michelle said...

Not imaginary me. Some peoples blog you just keep coming back to - yours in one of those for me.

atet said...

I had this conversation in a class I took this past semester. Why do people invest in online relationships? I think you just made a much more eloquent defense of online communication and community than I did in class.

Carolyn said...

My children joke about my "friends in that box" all the time. Many of my closest friends are online and fortunately I've gotten to meet them several times. It is wonderful to share ourselves, our our convenience. They don't have to see us at our worst. If something upsets us we don't have to respond instantly...we can think about it for awhile. I think all of this makes it easier to develop close bonds with people who we don't see.

Carole said...

So, are you saying that you're old now? lol Yea, imaginary friends are wonderful. Life is an illusion anyway so you might as well make the best of it! Keep well my imaginary friend!

Vicky said...

I know what you mean. I have trouble explaining to someone about my good friend, Sally. Oh, she lives in another state, and, no, we've never met, but I've met people who have met her. And she's a really good friend, one of my closest friends. My boss, after such an explanation, told me I needed to get out more! LOL

Tracey @ozcountryquiltingmum said...

Very well put, I think sometimes our friends are just our friends because of circumstance and location, they are not always kindred spirits, but online you can pick the kindred spirits because you find out just what they think, Tracey