Those Whiny Baby Boomers
Gifts For Elders on Your List

Online Friends

[A new piece, How To Be Old, has been posted at Blogher this morning.]

A couple of days ago, I received an email from joared who blogs at Along the Way. Her internet connection had been iffy for a couple of weeks leaving her without predictable internet/blog/email access:

"I became consciously aware I felt more alone, simply because I couldn't get out on the Internet…As I think about it, there seems to be something about being able to send an email when I feel like it at any hour of the day or night that is comforting, even though I know the recipient may not read it until another day…”

A year or maybe two ago, I wrote a piece in which I said, “Don’t tell me you don’t check your email and blog comments first thing in the morning and as soon as you return home.” To which Millie Garfield responded, “Yes, yes. Me too.” Or something to that effect.

When I began blogging, there is no way I could have predicted how important blog friends would become. Conversely, on those occasions when the world appears to conspire against us and for a day or two or three, no one sends an email or even responds to one we’ve sent, it feels to me like I might be dead and don’t know it yet – that I can still perceive my world, but the world can’t perceive me.

Silly fantasy, but it points up how much our lives are enriched by people we meet only by bumped into them online; how intimate we become with one another; and how much we depend on this new kind of friendship that hardly existed a decade ago.

It was true back in the day when we communicated with hand-written letters and it is true today with email and blog comments: while we are writing, we are thinking of that person in all the particulars of the history we have with him or her. And we are, for those moments, not alone.

As we get older, particularly when we retire from full-time work, our social worlds tend to shrink. There is not the daily camaraderie with office mates. A spouse and other friends may die. Children may live in faraway places.

Whatever did we do before blogging friends.


A couple of Sundays ago five Austin garden bloggers met to tour one of our gardens and share baked goods and conversation. We did not know each other before our blogs but now have gotten together a couple of times. We compare notes and photos of our gardens and share our thoughts almost daily. In some respects we know more about each other's lives than our non-blog reading friends and family.

As I said as I was leaving, I've decided to trade in my old friends who aren't interested enough in my life to read or respond to my blog for my new improved blogging friends. Luv ya guys!

This year when I spent 6 1/2 months with my grandson in hospital, my son had loaned me a laptop and I thought whatever for,,I don't have that many family members to keep in touch with. And then I found the world of blogging, and while I sat day after day in the hospital, reading the blogs become an obsession, it gave me comfort like a human voice in the darkness and I'm so glad I found this blogging world.

As one of those Austin Garden Bloggers, let me say that MSS is so right. I'm still a little giddy from the day we all met.

Although the characters in "The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio" are 40-and-under, the movie begins in the 1950's, so some of the themes and mindset might be appreciated by those who remember those days.

I'll try to avoid a "spoiler" but in one part of the movie, a couple of characters who have only known each other through their words, meet in person. Seeing this on screen actually moved me to tears! It was so close to how I felt when meeting the garden bloggers.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Great blog and comments. I find that reading what others are doing, even those I know I'll never meet for real, it's very comforting. I have always had a thing for written words and blogs are an extension, a new application of that. It means a lot to me. The exciting thing with blogs, in my opinion, is their diversity as there are so many types, each person finding their own niche and we type out these words alone and then they sail out into the world and are read by others while we read theirs. How cool is that!

Blogging and emailing have supplanted the letter writing, at which I wasn't very good, and the phone calling, which I rarely did. Amen to the posting and the comments that precede this!

You are right, Ronnie. I have never met the people who post comments on my blog but have come to consider them as friends. And now that my mother is actually dying, these strangers open their arms and comfort me with words, which, to my surpise, feel more satisfying than those family members use.

P.S. I am going to meet the first person I have "met" through blogging next week and look forward to it!

I spent last week without access to my computer and thought I'd go crazy. It's so nice to be back home, checking my e-mail and catching up with my blogging friends!

I've always been a lousy letterwriter and lost touch with a lot of people I really appreciated just because I was to lazy to write a letter. Emailing and blogging has made things so easy. No paper, no envelope to seal, no stamp, no post-office, just one click, and there you are. I love it. Probably reinforces my lazy side.

I had a party after the election and instantly made 35 new friends!

I love all my blog buddies - they add so much to my day. Just to read the thoughts of people who actually *think* about things, or who can comment on my thoughts without sighing, "Yes, I *know*!" after my latest ranting about politics or whatever.

Bloggers are a must for my sanity these days....

When computers first came about I didn't want any part of them, of course. Now, yes I do check my blog comments and email first thing.

"I can still perceive my world, but the world can’t perceive me." That's a great way to describe the feeling when for some reason our online communications get shut down.

Thanks so much for this, Ronni. It's lonely here in a new town, with my first month being taken up with a week and a half of business trips and a week (and counting) with laryngitis. You have been a particular inspiration, even though I rarely comment to let you know, and keeping up on my own blog has been grounding.

PS Mow that I have brought my gardening talents to a blank slate here in Austin, your clever commenters have revealed what blogs I need to start reading! :-)

What a nice post!

And right on the money.

I love my online friends! Truly.

Let's hear it for blogging friends! But have you ever tried to describe to a non-blogger the joy that these friendships can bring? I've had some very odd looks! It never ceases to amaze me how blogging friends can infiltrate your life - I found myself a couple of nights ago regaling my husband with the mouse-drowning exploits of a cat named Ollie on another continent that neither he nor I have never met ;-)

There is no way to describe the pleasure I get from your BLOG, Ronni. Those of you who have read my previous posts know I am hearing impaired. This is an isolating problem and the computer has become my link to the outside world. I, too, feel like I am finding new friends through this medium. Thank you one and all for your interesting posts. It is nice to become friends with an erudite and intelligent bunch of people and I am learning so much from you.

Great, Ronni! This has been true for me for a very long time -- even before I started blogging -- I started out on the old FIDO and RIME bulletin boards online about 15 years ago (give or take a year) & still keep in touch with folks I got to know there to this day! The support I received from my cyberspace pals through my difficult separation & divorce a few years ago was awesome. And that I've met some of them is an added bonus! I've always said that meeting an online friend is like old friends who have never met -- at least that's how it's been for me! What a delight it is to be able to hang out with friends just about anytime one wants!!!!

Yes, I too have succumbed to frequently checking email first thing in the A.M. as I hurriedly eat some breakfast (something else I never use to do) since I may not eat again until the evening meal. Find myself doing the same check when I get home; wanting to read this blog and the one at BlogHer, especially, to see what topic might have been written about most recently.

Blogging friends have just slowly and gradually taken on a significant import in my emotional life. I have difficulty sometimes understanding why and how this could happen with individuals I've never even met. I've not found an effective way to explain this connection to those outside this blogging world, as Jeanne mentioned, because their reaction is generally the questioning raised eyebrow, or a patronizing, "Sure."

I always loved written correspondence with friends, as did those with whom I exchanged letters. As the number with whom I could correspond has decreased, coming to blogs does seem much like a natural evolvement, but with a significantly larger pool of those who also enjoy writing -- just in a different medium.

A major difference is I have no history with these new blogging friends, so must build from their acquaintance in an "introduction" via blogs and emails to wherever the friendship level might lead.

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