Sunday, April 18, 2010

Friends, Online Acquaintances, and Stuff

I have some of the best friends in the world. Seriously. And lucky for me I got to spend most of yesterday with one of them. We plant shopped, grocery shopped, and went to lunch. (Unfortunately, the Mexican food I ate didn't like me a bit and I'm paying for it today).

One of the tricky things I'm mulling in my head is the distinction (if there is one) between online acquaintances and regular acquaintances.

First, online gives you a peculiar intimacy. No one sees you as you type (unless you use the webcam. And oh the scary story in the news about the school district that activated the security program that ran the webcam on unsuspecting teenagers, taking photos of them every 15 minutes, including nude shots in their bedrooms!).

A lot of times you let your guard down. The blog almost seems like a diary. At the same time, you get input, usually from the same folks, and they start to get to know you and vice versa. But, for the most part, you have no idea what they look like, and without body language to judge you have no idea if they really are that nice lady or a raving axe murderer---or just your average, run-of-the-mill fruitcake. (ARE there "average" fruitcakes? A question for another blog perhaps.)

Can real friendships and relationships come out of online? Absolutely. But there is also the potential for the scary stalker stuff too. And how often have tweets or blogs about the upcoming vacation to Aruba giving dates and times led to someone's house/apartment being robbed. A LOT. And there's identity theft too. All this information is out there about you. It would be SOOOOO easy . . . and sometimes it is. And potential employers, and employers are now cruising the net LOOKING for things about job applicants and current employees. So it can really, seriously damage your career or job hunt. (NO more "WHOOOOO HOOO, PARTIED 'TIL DAWN" posts if you want to get/keep that job).

So what do you do? I mean, do you edit everything to death to make sure there's nothing that could possibly cause a problem? Be yourself and take your chances?

I dunno. It's an individual call. I try to make a compromise. I'm me. My posts are going to reflect that. If the potential employer doesn't like that I have pets, get migraines, am depressed about living in Texas, am on thyroid medicine (and Mexican food sometimes messes with my digestion) screw 'em. They probably aren't the person I need to work for if that's going to cause a problem. BUT I don't put my actual birthday and address down online. I use a pre-paid credit card for most online purchases, or PayPal, from an account set up JUST for that purpose. (I go to EBay and buy something for $30.00, I deposit $31.00 to the account.) If they track the account down they'll get something like a whopping $.50-$1.00. Probably not even enough for a cup of coffee.)

When I go on a trip that has been publicized I make sure I have a housesitter. There's not much worth taking in the old abode, but dammit it's MY STUFF. Besides, I need someone there to handle the pet duties.

I've met some wonderful people online. And some others --- not so much. I'm fairly sure some of the people who've met me feel the same way (some think I'm wonderful. Some, not so much.) But that's pretty normal. It's the same way if you meet them in person.

BUT, when you get really in-depth, and talk about your childhood (Mine was mostly pretty terrific. Some dark spots, but I think everybody has a few of those) and relationships (single, and not finding my type in small town Texas), and sexual escapades (see previous note), people who've never met you think they really know you. (And in a way they do.) And sometimes they act on that presumed intimacy in ways you don't want.

SO, I guess what I'm saying is. I'm careful. I try to think about what I put "out there" in public. I wouldn't go to the mall butt naked, so I probably shouldn't have "butt naked" equivalent posts.

Okay, I'm done. Headed into the kitchen to eat some soda crackers and see if the body will settle down. Have a good day.


Ellece said...

I say, let's hear it for online friendships! I have met some of the most wonderful people online, period. Some online friends have become 3-D ones, and that's always cool. Being friends online is as modern as it gets, but at the same time it can take one back to an era when people relied solely on letters for communication, because life didn't allow for frequent visitation. Either way, I say, "Yay!" because friends are life's greatest treasures. :)

Dolly said...

I don't have a blog, I don't do Twitter so, the only online interactions I have are ones I initiate. (Like you Cie and a couple other authors).

I do use facebook and have reconnected with folks from school. The cool thing is I'm now more friendly with them than when we went to school together. The ones I hung around with in school are not the close friends I thought.

When I first started posting on facebook I realize now, I was saying things other people didn't need to know. (going out to do errands, eat, etc.) One of my sons wisely advised this was not a very good

Cie, I think you balance things out well with your blogs. I know Tammy and I are regular visitors and love hearing from you. I count you and Tammy as an "internet friends" because we seem to interact from time to time.

Tammy said...

Thank you Dolly, and I count you and Cie as just two of my "internet friends".

I don't do facebook although I've been asked to, and I don't do myspace or Twitter either, but I've found some great friends online. Some are authors, others I met through author blogs or forums.

I've gotten to know a few of them very well, and if we didn't live at opposite ends of the US, we'd probably be visiting in person as well as electronically. I don't write letters anymore, people don't seem to have the time to read them and 'sides my handwritting is lousy, but this way - by email, on blogs or forums is a great way to keep in touch! ::grin:: just have to remember to triple check spelling, fingers don't type as fast as I think.

Take care of yourself Cie, we want you bright eyed and bushy-tailed for RT next week!