[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.