In Defense of Internet Friends

I was reading this article on April Reign a great Canadian political commentary blog. I left a long comment, but I realize the arguments against “VIOLENT GAMES” and against pornography are the same. THE FUCKING SAME. In the same way people who like to game and spend time online are made to feel guilty, similar to people who have sexual kinks. Perhaps addiction is only a problem when the people around you feel like it’s interfering with THEM. (In this way I have to redefine my partner’s addiction, which I’ve written about previously, as his drug use doesn’t bother him in the least).

Many people call Facebook, Crackbook or similar things, because when you first join IT IS THE AWESOMEST thing ever and you have found all these friends that you went to school with and lost touch with. And there are all these applications with fun games to play. And then a year passes, and you find yourself checking it out less and less, and you have so many friends sending you crappy app requests that you find yourself annoyed. It seems that because “EVERYONE” is using Facebook now it’s okay.

Go 10 years back and I was IRC a lot, everyday, several hours a day.  I was a teenager, I had made lots of friends via the Internet and they hung out on IRC and it was fun to chat with them.

Not much different from teens hanging out at the mall after school. I grew up in a small town. None of my friends lived in town for most of my life, unlike me. And the one who did move to town wasn’t allowed to be out after dark, even at my house. (seriously, we were in grade 12). It was no different than me writing letters to pen pals in various parts of the world, it was just in more real time. I’m sure when I was 12 I spent hours writing letters. Prior to IRC and the internet, I spent 3 hours a night on the phone with one of my several best friends.

My parents were probably concerned because of all the bad press the Internets were getting on Addiction.  Really, I was likely better off than some of my counterparts (including my brother) who were at house parties getting DRUNK off their asses or driving around the back roads drinking beer. Which I only did once, and didn’t get at all.

My relationships on line were not much different than the one a friend had with a boy she met at camp. Sure she did meet him face to face before they started “dating”. But, in a one week camp she didn’t get to know him all that well and whatever information she had on him she got from letters etc. She was allowed to go his house to visit once. Of course, it was only a few hour drive not a few hour flight. Still, out of your parents house is out of your parents house.

I was more abused in my off line, so called, REAL Life relationships than anyone I had online. I recognized when things were going too fast online and it was easier to call a halt to it. It’s hard to push an ignore button on someone who lives in the same dorm as you, which was a key to why I dropped out of university. I’ve never told anyone, I don’t think I’ve ever really blogged about the one boy I dated in university.

When I was dragged away on family vacations I was upset that I had to leave my computer. But no more so than any other teenager I know who isn’t going to be able to spend her ENTIRE summer vacation Hanging out with her friends.

My “Internet” friends were more real to me than the fake people I knew in college, or high school. They may well have saved my life. While I never got to meet most of them, they were an important part of my life for a long time. And some of them continue to be.

I went into a rant about gamers and how violent games are the cause of all our Woes. But, upon reread I’m finding that these two ideas don’t necessarily need to be together. So maybe I’ll rant about anti-gamers another day.

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