The Internet is starting to freak me out.
It’s not the IM-speak or the LOLcats or the porn, though. It’s the way people act like friends over the Internet, specifically, the way they act like friends when they only know one another from the Internet.
I’m not talking about being Facebook friends with someone you liked in high school but rarely talk to now, even on Facebook. At least that person is an actual person to you. You have stood next to them and exchanged words and possibly was aware of them (and they of you) before things like flatirons were invented. I mean, it’s still kind of weird to be “friends” with these people on Facebook, because in my parents’ time, contact with them would have been limited to high school reunions. As it stands now, I’m still forced to see pictures of their kids without asking for them, so we’ve just accelerated the process.
I’m talking about this strange deal of meeting people through blogs, or Facebook, or Twitter and all of a sudden they’re your friends. And not like the people you meet this way who become your actual friends (hey Jen and Jess!). I mean like people you never meet (following someone on Twitter is not meeting them, fool) and refer to as friends, even though they’re really not because you’d never even get invited to one of their weddings, much less get to sit anywhere near the main table. There are lots of lame jokes about being seated with the retarded cousin and the couple who viciously argues throughout the reception, but dudes. I have been there.
I’m antisocial selective, so I’m able to maintain the difference between Real Life Friends, Internet Friends, Bar Friends, and Work Friends. Some of those people have my phone number. Fewer have been to my house. I’m an habitual Facebook deleter, too, so even my list of illusory friends is shrinking.
This is why it freaks me out to hear myself describe something I read or did on the Internet. People look at me funny when I say “This blog I follow,” or “This person who reads my blog.” Non-nerds think you’re weird, nerds think you must still be on something dorky like LJ (which I am, but hardly). So I find myself trying to compensate.
“This person I know.”
“This person my friend knows and I sort of know.”
“This person I kind of know of and sometimes exchange words with via our websites.”
“This…oh, hell…this friend of mine…”
They are not a friend of mine. In most cases, I barely know them. In some cases, I don’t know them at all. I’m just the creepster who found their blog and started reading. I don’t even friend them on Facebook, and I don’t have a Twitter. They have no idea I even exist, which is fine with me but I wish I could stop trying to quantify the ways I know of them the way a lot of other people seem to have no problem doing.
The thought of approaching someone I read makes me nervous in my organs. Talking to someone you know intimately from the Internet while they’ve never even heard the sound of your voice is a way like no other to say “I’m lonely, let’s knit things together!” Maybe some of you people think it’s cool to be recognized from the Internet, but I have been there.* It’s kind of spooky.
I don’t see what’s wrong with not being a part of someone else’s circle. I don’t need to know everyone who writes things, nor do I need to know everyone who reads the things I write. This is not to say I’m discouraging anyone from commenting on my stuff or anyone else’s, but a bit of remove is healthy.
This is my arm, it is this long. Stay back.
* Obviously, I am not famous. I’m not even saying this blog is so good that I must have stalkers. I’m just saying that on several occasions, people I have never met or even looked at on the Internet have approached me in public and referenced stories of mine with strange, coy grins on their faces (granted, these are usually people associated with people I’ve dated). I suppose it’s flattering in a way, but the moment between their first words to me and me figuring out what they hell they’re doing is scary in a “this person is going to cut off my feet and hands” kind of way. I am not cut out for even minor celebrity.