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12 May 2008

My Offline Life ?

I’ve been mulling over the term “real life” lately.

Specifically what I mean when I refer to my “real life” as opposed to my “online life.”

What is my real life?

Is it only the portion contained in Bricks and Mortar?

I didn’t really consider whether or not my online life was just as real as my offline life until Miz Turnbaby got her ass all chapped last week and decided to make it the subject of her weekly Blog Talk Radio extravaganza. Before Turn’s callin’ me out, if was merely part of my vernacular.

For me….online communication…and friendships…exist in a different realm. Not that the people I know and love in the blogosphere are any less “real”…they just exist in a different realm…almost a different dimension. Rarely am I exposed to the tone or inflection of their voice, the expressions of their face, or the gestures of the body. (One of the reasons I started listening to BlogTalkRadio was to hear the voices of the people I read.)

One of my very favorite web logs has never shown the face of the author. I quote her…and pray for her….and visit her site almost everyday. I consider her a true friend…and very real….but is she part of my “real life”? Kinda. The pieces I take from her blog cross over into “other” parts of my life.

I am a multi tour veteran of online dating. (all the major league sites…and a couple of the minors) I think it is fraught with danger. Liars, cheats and thieves fill out profiles luring unsuspecting men and women. However, I truly believe it is a valuable tool for single adults in all walks of life. For my part, I met quite a few men who were not in person as they were online. Meeting online is just not the same as meeting in person. I met a few who were exactly who they claimed…but with whom I just did not click. They seemed nice enough in email…in chat and on the telephone…but when I met them in person…eh....not what I thought.

Some of you know I had adamantly opposed a long distance relationship. I am not the type well suited to a part time gig. If I had met a man…no matter how attractive to me... who lived a couple hours away….I would have said no way. However I met one online…and a series of significant emails caused me to reconsider. (if you are so inclined… see the links at the end of this post to read the articulate, heartfelt messages The Teamster used to convince me….) Granted until I met him face to face….I had no idea if my impression of him was “real" or not…but if we had first met in “real life” I would have never considered the possibilities.

My family belongs to many online communities, FaceBook, MySpace, GoodReads, LinkedIn to name a few. Some of my weblog friends have crossed over into these venues as well. Does that multiple connection make them more “real” to me….probably not.

You may have read of my meeting Sandee and Linda in real life…(sorry Turnbaby…in person). I have to admit…they are more real to me now having spent a couple hours over dinner with them than before. They were both real to me before…but now…more real.

Just like you all are “real” to me. The personal insights I glean from your writing and your photographs. The private details you share about your life…the good stuff and the bad. The way you comment on other blogs… the blogs I read in common with you. What you hint at and allude to…and what you never blog about at all….provide me a framework of who you are.

Many people (in all demographics) do not invest a great deal of time or effort into the world wide web. They have no online presence…and indeed our blogosphere is unreal to them. Most of the world has no access…for many reasons. They could not consider our blog world as being real life. Many people I know have only heard the horror stories and view the internet as a more efficient delivery method for gossip and pornography (paraphrasing Leo McGarry). I found this funny little video giving examples of "real life vs the internet" which conveys a bit of truth.







The definition of “real life” is changing in our culture. As with everything the degree of reality in your online life depends of what you put into it. And what you get out of it. My online, two-dimensional, virtual, internet life is very real indeed.

For those of you who are fans of the rapper “Plies” the CD “Definition of Real” is scheduled to be released on 10 June 2008.…I‘ve never heard his stuff….but hey…he‘s thinking about "real life" too.

Post Script:
Craig...The Serotinous Man...has expanded (expounded?) on his comment to this post...

"we have created an environment that is causing us to expand our understanding of consciousness, communication, relationship, connectivity, and even humanity - especially blogger's C;). "


He always has some interesting thoughts....you might want to check him out...


The Teamster emails….
get “REAL”...If you actually scrolled down here to look…shame on you. I was joking! Sheesh…even people in my 3D life don’t get to read those…



27 comments:

Ian Thomas Healy said...

I don't think the phrase "in real life" is a negative thing - sorry, Turnbaby, rub some lotion on that chapped ass. Nearly all the friends I have now I have met online.

Think about that for a minute.

I have dear friends whom I care about and even love and trust who I may never meet in person, even though I talk to them every day. Without the internet, I never would have met these wonderful people. Because I only know them by their blogs, by instant and text messaging, and by the telephone doesn't make them any less my friends, any less real. For me, the phrase "in real life" is simply a way to denote someone you've met in person instead of solely online. I don't see it as a negative thing at all.

I understand exactly where you're coming from, Katherine. :)

Ian

Mel said...

Welllllll.....I was the mom who refused to have internet in her home because of the 'evilness'.
And long distance relationships? Puuhhlleeaseee!
Relationships PERIOD....but long DISTANCE?! No freakin' way.

*chuckling*

Real people with real lives and real feelings---not just words on a screen.
Some folks are hard pressed to honour that.
Others--are honourable.

You, dearheart, are honourable and honoured....greatly.

(Yeah, yeah.....gettin' mushy.....LOL)

<--starts to fret a bit when there's silence, yaknow....(I'm kinda like that)

Real life?
Frankly, it all feels dreamlike as of late. ;-)

Odat said...

What a great post!! Funny but so true! That video is great too!

As you know, I've met a few blot buddies in person and they're all what I thought they would be. They were just like their blogs! I like to listen to Blog radio too just to hear people's voices. I think we bloggers are blessed to encounter all these new friends and the "real world" just doesn't understand it. I've tried to explain it to some and I get these looks....you know THE LOOK..

OK, where's the blog with all the Teamster's emails?????? hehe.

Peace

Odat said...

**That should read "blog" buddies......lol....
I've never met any blots! ;-)

craig andrew said...

Virtually all of my life is real.. C;P except for the parts that aren't.

I think the internet is expanding our understanding of consciousness, relationship, and humanity; that we can have a very real connection with someone we never met that is on the other side of the planet. And, I think the near future is going to be very interesting as a result of this new exploration. But, you know I'm funny like that... C:)

Sandee (Comedy +) said...

First, I loved the video. Lot of truth there.

I also like Teamster too. You did very well in that respect.

My online life is as important to me as my brick and mortar one. Just saying.

Very well done Katherine. I hope Turnbabies chapped ass gets better soon. Bwahahahahahaha. Have a great day. :)

Claire said...

Loved this post.
Being on the other side of the pond it was easy to separate my real life friends and online ones. For some reason I only have the odd fellow brit blog bud.

I fast became really good friends with a group of folk and like you tuned into blog talk radio to hear them talk.

Now I am travelling to your side of the pond to meet up with some of them and most of my family and friends think I am a bit nuts. The bit nuts maybe true but I cant wait to meet them in real life too.

There are some folks I am really disappointed about not meeting this time but they are still very 'real' and special to me :)

Bond said...

As we discussed on Sunday, I certainly consider those who I have a relationship with though the internet as friends.

There are those I have met and have enjoyed in person.

There are those I have not met but feel fairly certain I would get along quite well with in a person to person meeting. (You and the Teamster are two of those).

I do look forward to meeting more people in person over the next few years.

I, still, ♥ the views said...

I found it really very odd when I met various bloggers in "real life", and talked to one person the phone

all of a sudden I had the inflections in their voices and their accents in my heads and their words fell really neatly into place and everything they had written all made sense

it was as if I'd been blind and could suddenly see

but, for me, that's the beauty of blogging (versus meeting a "date" online, which I haven't done) because you slowly, bit by bit, gently, build up a relationship with a person who is giving themself (or part of themself) freely - they are not "after" anything and are not "offering" anything but the part that they want to share

it might be just a small part, or it might be one particular aspect - but they want to share it freely

(and there are people whose blogs I've read and commented on with whom I haven't "clicked", and I do wonder whether if I'd have met them in "real life" if we'd have gotten on)

for me it's wonderful

it's global

it's timeless


and best of all, for me anyhow, it is real

:-)

katherine. said...

Ian: it is a new reality isn't it?

mel: and what now the two of you have twelve computers? And I do believe you met Himself online...TransAtlantic no less? (yeah...I was talking about you....)

Odat: we are blessed..and oh yeah...I know the "LOOK".

C:) we are indeed expanding with the internet...and I'm willing to bet that you KNOW the near future...you are strong in the force....

katherine. said...

sandee: you have the dubious distinction of being one of the very few crossovers. I can't credit for The Teamster...it was all his doing...

Claire: you are traveling soooo far to meet your online realm...way cool....maybe you could smuggle ISLTV in your suitcase?

katherine. said...

Vinny: it certainly got me thinkin'...you soul-patrolers are a tight knit group for sure!

isltv: (come over come over)
it IS global, and
wonderful...and very real

I, still, ♥ the views said...

:-)

Mags said...

There's not much I can add to the comments at this point (stupid work!) but I just wanted to say that I really liked this post and that I think it's weird too.

Marilyn said...

I don't think my husband would have thought to ask me out if we hadn't met online and I wouldn't have dreamed that we'd have anything in common... still I went on a lot of dates with men I met online before I met him.

Blogging doesn't feel like dating though. I'm sure I don't come off the same way on my blog as I do in real life but it feels like that's because the blog lets me say what I'd be afraid to say otherwise.

The people that visit my blog, you included, are more important to me than most of the people that I know in "real life". I feel like you'd notice if I dropped off the face of the earth and I sometimes don't feel like the real life people would. Even some "friends" don't really care about what I think or how I'm doing.

Mr. Fabulous said...

For me, I think that for online and offline friends, at least when it comes to fellow bloggers, there is no difference.

I say that because I have met dozens of bloggers in person, after having only known them from their blogs.

Unlike with people you might meet from the online dating realm, without exception, every single blogger I met was exactly as I had expected them to be. There was no awkwardness, no uncomfortable silences. It was as if we had lived next door to each other all our lives.

Mel said...

(((( katherine ))))

Oh pshaw! Only five computers in this house....LOL
COULD be 12 at some point though---cuz if some is good....MORE (don'tchaknow) is better!



And yes, transAtlantic--five years in the making and lot of airmiles...LOL (thankgoodness)

We ARE an 'interesting' story... an amazing piece of what can happen in the transformation from the delusion we all could buy into........that the honourable KNOW and the untrusting won't trust.....
It's a solid foundation built on black and white honesty.




What an excuse some hand themselves to use and abuse the privilege of hearts unfolding and investing and trusting.
And how sad when one allows themself a privilege that's not truly theirs.

'nuff rambling....

'cept I STILL say Mr. A is a keeper!
;-)

I, still, ♥ the views said...

(I'd quite like to keep Mr A for a while. . . ;-D)

exactly what Mr Fab said, is what I mean about blogging and the freeness of giving, bulding up a real relationship

Travis said...

I think friends are friends, regardless of how we meet them or interact with them.

I also think it comes down to the precision of language, which can be so important when much of the communication between friends comes via the written word. There are a lot of different connotations of the word "real", so I don't think any one usage is right or wrong...it's just part of that individual's means of expression.

I think the problem comes from those who would try to denigrate an online relationship by sneering at it to suggest that it isn't "real". Those kinds of people scoff because they don't understand how such a sense of community can be built up by people who only share words on a screen. So when they say "real life", it can be bothersome.

I tend to fall in Turn's camp, making no distinction between my online and offline relationships. To me, my blog community are my friends of varying degrees, just as the people I see every day are also friends of varying degrees.

Great extended discussion here. Thanks!

Desert Songbird said...

At least your online life isn't your ONLY life.

Matt-Man said...

Very well done post Kat. I seperate the two "worlds" in regards to many people I meet online, but not to a huge degree. Cheers!!

Roger said...

That so awesome to get to meet your friends in person like that! :D

Jeff B said...

I really enjoyed this post and the comments just as much. I often wonder what the people I interact with via the blogs are like in person. For the most part I wold think they would be pretty much what I would expect, but seeing their mannerisms and hearing their voices sure would be interesting.

Mel said...

*peeking in and checkin' up on ya*

Mostly cuz I can.
Always cuz it matters to me how you're getting along........

*hugs*

Sandee (Comedy +) said...

Hi sweetie -

I have a challenge for you...

The BlogBlast For Peace Meme ~ Join The Revolution.

Big hug and have a great day. :)

Linda said...

Chiming in late - as always! I seem to have become quite inept at time management this past week (or has it been longer than that? I forget) but I did want to stop by and say a) it truly was a pleasure meeting you in real life and b) you make some very good and valid points.

My whole issue with the internet (if you want to call it an issue) is that people can be whoever they want to be and 9 times out of 10 you aren't going to ever know that they are anything different than what they claim because you aren't going to meet them in the living and breathing flesh. I think this is why I have no desire to try online dating again (did the whole Match.com, eHarmony, and Yahoo Personals thing obviously to no avail!)

With blogging, though, I think that all of the blogs I read are written by people who are who they claim to be and there's isn't an insincere one amongst them. Through their posts I have come to know them so much better than a lot of people I know in flesh and blood. I think that people share more in blogs and they aren't out to impress anyone like those in on-line dating are. It's not a contest if that makes any sense.

Those bloggers whom I have had the pleasure of meeting in person - yourself, Sandee, Mags, Mo, Mimi, and Patti - have all turned out to be fantastic people and the best thing was, we all knew so much about each other from our blogging that it was like meeting an old friend again rather than meeting a new friend for the first time. I don't know how to explain it to people outside of the blogosphere so I've basically given up trying but blogging has really changed my life in some areas and that's a good thing.

Now if some guy with a winning smile, a sense of humor, and the ability to hold an intelligent conversation would just meet me via my blog then life would be perfect!

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