Five years ago I met someone in a Yahoo chat room. He was stationed at an air force base a few hours from where i live. He was a flight engineer and was there for special classes. We met in person, and saw each other almost every single day after that for the three months he was stationed there. It was the perfect relationship (of sorts) because we both knew there would never be anything beyond those three months. It simply was what it was, and would be over when he left. Or would it?
It’s been five years since I’ve seen him in person, but the relationship didn’t end. It changed, yes, and grew into a friendship that I am quite sure will last a lifetime, and made possible because of today’s communication capabilities. We talk on a regular basis, and although I haven’t seen him in person, we see each other via web cam quite regularly. I have traveled with him to North Carolina, Arizona, London, and Iraq, to name a few, and all without ever leaving my home. From half a world away, he can send me a snap shot, and I am able to share that one moment in time with him. In that one moment, it’s just the two of us, and I can see the world through his eyes. I spent 4 ½ hours with him just last night… web cams on… talking, laughing, drinking a beer. He is one of my closest friends… yet would have remained a stranger had it not been for the internet, and today’s ways of communicating.
I live in Northeastern Arkansas, and thanks to the internet, I have been able to make new friends all over the world, keep up with the ones that have moved 1,000 miles away. I finally got to say “I’m sorry“ to someone I lost touch with twenty years ago, and now we talk almost everyday. I can talk to these friends in “real time”, and unlike the POTS (Plain Ole Telephone Service), I can see them on a web cam, share a digital album, or be a part of a friend’s birthday party from 5 states away.
My brothers, sister, mother, and even my grandfather all have their own pc’s complete with web cams/audio, and even though they are spread out across the U.S,. we can have a “family reunion” anytime we want. I was even able to see my first “God-Grandchild”, who was born in Michigan, the day he was brought home from the hospital, and I’m watching him grow everyday from almost 800 miles away.
While “social networking” is fabulous, I think we should take a moment to look at our “friends and family” network (and I don’t mean Alltel) . In a world where “making contacts” seems to mean so much, don’t forget about the people you are already connected to. In the great infrastructure of life, it’s the friends and family who are your cornerstones.