It's just acting like one.  Been a busy week here at the
castle.  Thursday evening I got to meet a longtime internet
friend.  Always an interesting experience.  It's one thing I
have in common with my mother — we both have been involved in internet
communities that have spawned “real life” friendships.  I was
talking to Mom  yesterday (pray for her, she is out of the
hospital but convalescing at the nursing home this week, hoping to be
home for Thanksgiving), and we were sharing our experiences.  We
both have been pleasantly surprised at how much our own husbands have
enjoyed meeting the husbands of our internet friends.

To me the most interesting thing is the way cyber-friendships — the
really good ones — reverse the usual order of things.  The usual
first impressions become the last things discovered, as you get to know
the person from the inside out.    The cyber-identity
gets a new depth and clarity when you see the real person behind the
opinions experiences expressed online.

Meeting my friend Charity has been kind of like the first time I saw Garrison Keillor on TV.  I had listented to Prairie Home Companion
for years, and knew his voice as a writer so well I could identify it
even when seen out of context.  I had formed an image in my head
of this radio voice, and the one on TV is not the image I had
formed.  To this day, my brain still battles with seeing my
imaginary Garrison Keillor, versus what I have now seen with my eyes
and know to be the true one. 

In the same way, the funniest thing happened when Charity came
over.  Although I have seen a couple photos of her online, they
didn't convey quite the real thing.  When she came over Thursday
night, it was kind of an “aha!” moment, and I was so happy to see that
the real Charity was an even more wonderful friend than Internet
Charity.  But she was only able to stay a few hours, and I
discovered the next day that I was having a hard time holding on to the
memory of the real Charity's voice and face and way of being, because
these new memories have to compete with six years of my imagination
filling in those details as I read her posts in our many common
cyber-haunts.  Luckily we were able to get together one more time,
and I made a point of trying to cement some real-life images in my
head, so that from now on as I read her posts,  I can imagine the
real Charity instead of the pretend one.