We’re at an interesting point in techno-history. The internet has become a huge part of our lives, intertwined with our daily communications. As someone who works in a home office in Wyoming, the internet IS my place of business. I’m on the ‘net all day long with my colleagues in Boston, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Colorado, Florida, Virginia. We email. We IM. The internet allows us to shout over the virtual cubicle wall.
And my writing network is pretty much all virtual now. No one else in my small, remote town is writing the kind of thing that I am. The gals who are part of my online network form a daily, intimate part of my life also. We blog. We exchange Facebook comments.
It all feels very natural to me. But it’s easy to forget that ten years ago, I didn’t have this kind of virtual network. We had to fight the corporate policy to let us IM each other. Twenty years ago, I was using A-1 Mail on the university system in a DOS environment. I also have to remember that many people aren’t as comfortable online as the rest.
Uncomfortable and new mean scary. And sure, there are bizarre stories of stalking on the internet. Crazies meeting up. Perverts luring young girls and boys to bad ends. But I wonder what the real stats on that are?
My friend, Allison, is rooming with Liz and me at the RT Convention. In her post yesterday she called us strangers. Okay, her husband is in law enforcement, so he’s paranoid. He only sees the worst of humanity. But it’s so funny to me, because I hadn’t thought of her as a stranger. I suppose I could be someone other than who I appear to be online. Or she could. Liz, I’ve met in person, but did that really tell me anything more about her than I knew before? Liz has a sister — maybe she sent the sister to meet me, to masquerade for some kind of nefarious purpose. Maybe “Liz” is really some perverted male serial killer hoping to lure me to a hotel in Orlando, where I’ll meet my terrible fate.
Or Liz, Allison and I are all exactly who we say we are and we’ll have a great time in Florida. Which is more likely?