Saturday, December 26, 2009

An Internet Friend Passed On

Back in the day, there used to be a thrust on pen pals. I had one and he lived in England somewhere; we corresponded for a while, but it didn’t play out. One day, he innocently asked me about the atomic plant at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and my father put an end to it, saying he was a spy and wanted me to give him secret information.

Maybe we still have pen pals and I hope so, as it still sounds like a good idea, regardless of whether I have secret atomic plans for some 12-year-old English spy.

Now it’s internet friends. I’ve never felt comfortable linking those two words; I think it should be more like “internet acquaintances,” as we really don’t know each other. It’s only the persona we show online, the words we type onto a screen, the bits of ourselves we allow others to see. Much like pen pals.

But you do get a feeling about someone and when they pass, there is a certain loss in your life. One of mine did just that the other day. Although we spoke on the phone once, we never met and never would; his world was far from mine in many ways and I never even knew his full name until two days ago.

It’s a matter of how much each of you invests in each other. He shared this problem, that joy, another disaster, yet a further accomplishment. There was an openness of sorts, of sorts, behind the veil. I did likewise, behind my own veil. Who is completely open with a stranger? He’s gone now, but I have every expectation of meeting him again some day.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You neglected to mention that not only did you share those conversations online and on the phone, you also shared a birthday.

I believe that you only share a certain amount of yourself with online acquaintances, but when you've been corresponding for as long as we were (10 years or more, in my case), you get a really good idea as to the to personality of that person. Wolf had his own demons that he battled, but he also had wisdom and compassion that he shared with others, and I will truly miss him.

December 29, 2009 11:33 PM  
Anonymous TheRealZenman said...

We all battle with our own, personalized demons. There are plenty of them to go around. But at the same time sharing and supporting each other in that battle is a large morale-builder for we the war-weary.

Yes, you never really can KNOW any mortal being, whether it's face-to-face, as pen-pal or message board buddy. But those moments of support and friendship are valued most highly, even if you never get to meet a person in what is laughingly called Real Life.

His personality came through loud and clear, as do so many others who share with me in blogs and message boards, in kitchen tables, offices and bedrooms.

We will miss him very much, but he will live on in our hearts, as well as in my message boards and emails, as I never clear the stuff out.

December 30, 2009 5:32 PM  

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