The internet has been very good to me.
I’ve been hanging out on the ‘net since before sound and pictures – before there was a web. As for social networking, I dived into the Usenet groups somewhere around 1990.
There I met a significant number of people who became friends, sometimes good friends. The Ex referred to them as my Invisible Friends which seemed apt and so I adopted the description..
The arrival of the digital revolution was so new that home computers were a rarity; and trying to explain to folks how it could be that I was making friends was daunting. It can be a tough thing to explain. Nonetheless, I blathered on and on about my cyber-life to anyone who would listen. Over family dinner, I would talk about the funny things people said on the ‘net.
One bright Saturday the phone ring and my son, who was practicing his telephone etiquette, answered. I heard him say, “May I tell her who’s calling.” He ran to get me, proclaiming all the way that Thanette was on the phone. I searched my memory banks and could not summon any memory of anyone named Thanette or Annette or anything similar. Curious, I took the phone and said hello.
The caller was Jane who lived near Perth, Australia. She and I bonded in the rec.food.cooking group on Usenet. Chef Boy ‘R Mine, bless his heart, had listened to me babble on and on about the ‘net thinking it a person, one person, named Thanette. I asked Jane what she had told him in response to the who’s-calling-thing. She had announced herself as Jane, Jane from the ‘net. It’s curious that my son didn’t think of Thanette as a place. Of course, with her accent, it’s a wonder he understood anything at all.
I asked him to draw me a picture of what he thought Thanette looked like. The end result was a portrait of a woman with brown curly hair, glasses and a big smile. [Damn it all, I saved that artistic work and it’s probably in The Closet I’m Afraid Of. Resurrecting that drawing could be an impetus to start that project. I don’t want to start it, but I do want to find that drawing and frame it.]
My Invisible Friends were far flung. Most of them were in the states, but a good number were scattered about the globe. These were people I had never seen, but who I counted good friends – the kind you tell secrets to.
They lived in Mexico and Scotland and England and Denmark and New Zealand and Sweden and Australia and Canada and, I’m pretty sure, most of the states. Eventually, I started meeting up with people – to meet in 3D – learning what they looked and sounded like.
In the early days, my Visible Friends were shocked that I would travel, one time all the way to London, to meet people I found on the internet. They were sure my brutal death at the hands of a serial killer was an inevitable destiny given my loss of common sense.
Last night, I met and had dinner with the infamous Buzzard Billy. She represents the first Invisible Friend from West Virginia that I’ve jumped in the car to go meet. I’m sure it’s a badge of honor that she’ll wear close to her heart – Hillbilly Thanette.