Tuesday, February 3, 2009

'Knowing' 'Friends' in 'real' life

The Trini Blogger, Girlblue (who I've met in person a few times) wrote a post today that is so true. She mentions how she met up with a visiting Blogger and took him and his son up to Maracas for Bake & Shark ... then muses "Its funny though and made me think, we would go out of our way to visit with foreign blog type people but would rarely make the effort of meeting the local ones we read all the time, funny that. Ah well ..."

Hmmmmmmm. I guess a (prophet) Blogger isn't recognized in his/her own town.

Some TT bloggers are anonymous, so unless they reveal themselves to you, you may never know who they are. Maybe it's easier to take for granted that "so and so is from TT" and the place is so small that you're sure to bounce them up one day on the street or in the grocery (somewhere "mundane") ... or you've already seen them around, so it's nothing new and exciting to see or meet them 'in real life' ... (?)

Or maybe, for some, meeting 'in real life' takes away the mystery and allure ... either for the reader ... or for the Blogger him/her self, who finds it easier as an unknown name/face to be fully open about how he/she feels and who he/she is.

Some people 'know' others through their blogs, but never reveal who they are as readers or even that they read them (lurking or delurking is the lingo). So even if they 'know' you, you don't 'know' them. Sometimes I'll be out somewhere and someone I've never seen before will say to me: "Hi Elspeth, I enjoy reading your blog" ... and then we may talk for a while. We may never meet again (as much as we may), but I appreciate this whenever it happens.

I guess people have to be moved to do it - otherwise why do it?

Some time last year a young man came up to me at Movietowne and asked me if I was Elspeth. When I said yes, his face lit up and asked me what had become of the dreams. He told me he had been there the night I launched the Dream House Window Lamp and that it had been such a moving experience. He was one of the many who had placed a dream in the lamp and (not knowing all that I had done with it after) always wondered what had become of it. His excitement (when I told him the full story) made my hair raise. I'm so glad he came up to me and asked and that I was able to give him such good news.

Some people are afraid to come and talk to me. I know this because quite a few over time (even before I started blogging), when they've met me, have said that they always wanted to meet me or talk to me but were afraid to. There is no need to be afraid!

These days it's possible to hear someone say: "Yeah, I know John Smith. I read his blog every day" almost with the confidence of someone who says: "Yes, I know John. We played together as children, used to build club houses in the hedge, grew up in the same neighbourhood, went to school together, I was best man at his wedding, I was there when etc etc etc ..."

What is it to truly know someone?

This brings me to Facebook, myspace and all of these electronic 'social and business networking sites' where one can have hundreds and thousands of 'friends' and be very 'popular'. I don't know anyone 'in real life' who has hundreds and thousands of 'friends' (at least based on what I define a 'friend' to be). I'm not saying you can't make 'real' friends with someone you've encountered online, because I can surely say that I have made/met some ... and I know many others who have.

I think the word 'friend' is often sadly redefined in the cyberworld: someone who may know many things about someone, may 'talk' to him or her online through comments or whatever other technological mechanism, but may not really make the effort or have the desire to reach out and interact beyond that, in the flesh, even if it's possible.

I already know a few Bloggers in TT (... but I knew them before and they just also happen to blog). But have I met any new local ones? I don't think so, come to think of it. Could be that they are anonymous and I have met them but just don't know that I did? E.g. you could meet a Sally Singh (offline) who just doesn't mention that she's Trinicakes (online).

Actually, there is one Blogger I'd never met, whose blog I used to read (when she and her family were living in Trinidad): Karen of Chookooloonks. We met in person for the first time on the night I handed over the Soul Window before they relocated to Texas. It didn't feel like 'the first time'.

I've met a few foreign bloggers - either when I've traveled or when they've been here ... and it has always been a great experience. I haven't known them since childhood or been to school with them every day, but some connections don't need quantity of time in order to determine quality of experience and bond. We are all souls on a journey and it so happens that a modern invention called 'the internet' has enabled us to (re)connect, in ways that we may not have been able to otherwise, with souls who may be with us for the rest of our lives ... just as closely, or sometimes even more so, than those first met in flesh.

I also think of my 'offline' friends - those I feel I will know 'for ever'. I still have many old schoolfriends, but, for various reasons, we don't keep in touch that often. Only one of them has been with me since childhood (primary school) onwards on a daily (literally) basis. Sharms, if you're reading this, that's you. I think (apart from the times either one of us has been abroad studying or jaunting), we've spoken to each other every single day/night over two decades at least! We're always "checking in". My other main friends are people I've met within the past ten years or so - through yoga, (mainly, come to think of it), music, work, the environment or fate - and I feel as if I've known them all my life. They love me and appreciate me (and I them) and would do just about anything for me (and I for them).

But yes, this is an interesting phenomenon about which a lot more can be said ... 'Friends' and 'knowing' and blogging and meeting (or not) - whether here or there.


GirlBlue said...

You captured the essence exactly Elspeth

Lynn Cohen said...

and you my dear Elspeth are one friend I have been lucky enough to make through blogging and it would be wonderful to meet in person one day. Who knows? It could happen.

I enjoyed reading this long piece...I do appreciate friendships so very much...I have a few long long time ones that I cherish...fewer real life friends today...many new blogger friends who I enjoy and admire and some I adore (include yourself in that category! actually all three categories) ;-) and Jasper too!

Elspeth said...

I feel we will, Lynn (meet).