Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My super-social network.

So, I have decided to continue blogging anonymously.  The recommendations were mixed, but ultimately it was Sey's last blog entry that sealed the deal for me.  There are a considerable amount of loonies on the internet, and even though I have made a LOT of friends online, at least I can pick and choose to whom I, um, reveal myself.

I'm not gonna lie:  I have a ton of online friends.  It all started about five years back, in the days of Myspace.  Truth be told, I've never really been all that great at making friends.  In high school, I was kind of quiet and a little nerdy.  When I first moved to California, I had a hard time making friends because we moved once a year, so I didn't have a lot of time to form lasting relationships with people.  Also, a lot of the jobs I've had have been ones in which I didn't have co-workers to interact with, and work seems to be the place where most adults find friends.

So, Myspace was a great place for someone like me to not only re-connect with old friends, but also to make new ones.  That's how I met The Hotness, actually.  We met on Myspace and immediately liked one another, despite all our glaring differences.  We still have never met in person, though I do talk with her almost daily and consider her a real friend.

As we settled in to Myspace groups, the hubby and I began to socialize on a daily basis with the same group of 20+ people, mainly through message boards and chat rooms.  The group eventually moved over to Stickam, which is a site for webcam chat, and that weeded out the people who weren't actually who they said they were.  Surprisingly, there were only two of them, but one of them we *thought* we knew really well.  For those of you who get the reference, it was like the movie Catfish.  It was kind of heartbreaking, but that experience taught me that you have to be very wary of people you meet online, because some of them will go to great lengths to make you believe they are someone else.

(Just in case all my vigilance talk has you doubting that I am really me)

My first experience of meeting up in person with someone I'd met online was a great experience.  The hubby and I befriended a local girl through Myspace and joined her and her boyfriend at the Ren Faire.  She was really sweet and normal, but much shorter than I'd imagined--which seems to be a recurring thing when you meet people in person who you know online.  They're never as tall as you'd think.  I know this, because since that first experience, I have met 15+ people in real life who I'd previously only known through online interaction, including my fellow blogger Hulabuns (hi!). 

The hubby, the kid, and I with some short people we met online.

This brings the question:  how well do we ever know people online?  When you "friend" a person on Facebook or Myspace, you really only know what they want you to know.  I suppose that's true in real life also, but social networking takes it to a whole new level.  Most people only talk about the happy stuff online, hoping to make their lives look as shiny and perfect as possible.  The other day, one of my Facebook friends commented that I always look good in pictures, and the conversation went like this:

Please excuse my messy editing

It's totally true, too.  I am a photoshop addict.  Rarely does a picture make it to my Facebook or to my blog without at least a *little* tweaking.  Except for that one the other day of me covered in caulk.  Had that been an altered photo, I would just give up right now.

All I'm saying is that, as much as it pains me to admit, we never know anyone online as much as we think we do.  And even though I have a lot of friends I keep in touch with through the internet, I guess it's better not to open myself up to crazy people stalking my family just yet.  So, anonymous it is.  At least for the time being.   I'm pretty indecisive, so I may change my mind again.

Also, if anyone (who doesn't actually know me) can figure out my identity, email me and I'll let you know if you're right.  I'm curious about how difficult it would be to stalk me if one was so inclined.  But please don't actually stalk me.  Seriously.  That stuff is creepy.


*If you're wondering what happened with the first girl I'd met in person, it's really sad.  She died.  Right around the time that the kid was born, she was hit by a drunk driver.  Since we only really kept in touch through Myspace, it took me a while to realize that she wasn't on anymore, and when I went to her page I saw what had happened through the posts by her friends and family.  I'm glad that I got the chance to meet her, even if I didn't get a chance to know her better.
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