Most of us who write or contribute on internet forums and blogs will at some point or another make the ghastly mistake of mentioning something to irl (in real life) friends or family. The conversation may go like this:
Friend: "My friend told me that there is a new therapy for kids with ASD, you inject them with sheep's liver and it clings to the heavy metals and helps purge them from their bodies and will cure them."
MM: "Ah, yes I was discussing this with cybermom just yesterday."
Friend: "Cybermom? That is a cute nickname, do you know her from school?"
MM: "No, we are on a parenting site together, I've known her for a few years now. She is really clued into all the cutting edge developments with ASD. I tend to ask her about anything new I hear on the grapevine."
Friend: "Ooooh. One of your imaginary friends *cue condescending little laugh*. Not a real friend. I've always found people on the internet to be a little strange, don't you?"
MM: "No. Do you think I'm weird?"
*Crickets chirrup in the otherwise dead silence
or the longest conversational pause in history*
Friend makes lamo excuse and leaves, quickly.
I have discussed before how I have made some wonderful friends here in internet world. You may have read of the fantastic night I had a couple of months ago with a friend I had known or known of for several years but had never before spoken to or met in the flesh. She only lives a little away, and I would class her as a new but good friend. Since our initial foray (and after bumping into her at the local shopping centre once) we have now caught up a couple more times, the most recent being last weekend at a local winery. Who leads who astray I am not sure, but I do know we laugh a lot when we are together, and never have those awkward silences that sometimes litter conversations with new people in your life.
Yes, I am the old fat one on the left...
Personally, I think she looks pretty good for an imaginary friend, don't you?
I also have another friend of many years standing. We met irl for the first time in 2007. We have since kept in constant contact (she lives interstate, though I am working on changing that), and I would class her as a very close friend. So close we would happily take on her son for life, should she need us to do so. She has stayed with us, with her wonderful son, and we really click. Our thoughts on our boys, very close in age, and how the world treats them, is on a par. I must admit though, she is the more rational one in on-line arguments and tends to allow reason rather than emotion to flow in her posts. I hope she moves here as she wishes, and we can support each other on a constant physical basis, rather than emotional support over the miles (not to belittle how much it means to have this).
Then there was the amazing coincidence when I stumbled across an irl Mum at our little local school whose photo I recognised in a comment on a blog I follow. After much deliberation I approached her, and have begun to get to know her a little more each time our paths cross. She is a lovely person, and funnily, is a close friend of one of my close friends. Her busy life has taken her away from blog world for a while, but I am hoping it is not for too much longer.
*Hi Waffler! You are missed!*
And of course I now add the wonderful Ro onto this crossover list. Although she too is many miles away, I can see this long-distance friendship will evolve over phone lines, and hopefully into face to face in the not too distant future.
In fact, you know what? I think it is my internet connections who have gotten me through the dark days, it is my on-line friends who are my safe haven, the place where I come when life is too damn hard, and my stupid pride won't allow me to let others in. It is you bunch of people commenting, cyberholding my hand, and invisibly patting me on the back as I brokenly spill my guts, who pull me back from the brink time after time.
So, to all those nay-sayers who think these are not real friendships. You are right. Seriously, you are.
These are unreal friendships! The best there is.