First of all, for the record, I understand the inherent ridiculousness of this... the fact that I am mourning someone I've never met. I am also extremely mindful of how easy it is to play tricks and fool people on the internet. I am also very, very, very sure this is not a joke, for what it's worth [mainly because: forum moderators, and the band the message board belongs to, all offered formal condolences and were apparently contacted by real life acquaintances of the deceased].
Eight months ago I joined a message board and have spent a lot of time there. One person in particular struck me as one of the the most vibrant, sarcastic, snarkiest, sweetest, most adorable (and infuriating) person I have ever met (I will call him "S."). S. was a 19 year-old college student who was frighteningly intelligent, fearless, and yes, in poor health and foolish despite (perhaps because of?) it.
Two days ago, he died (reason unconfirmed but a poor heart condition is currently believed to be the cause). And yes, I really believe the sources who confirm this. A farewell thread was started for him, and then "hidden" at the request of an ex-lover/close-friend (who I suspect was upset at board members who speculated that it was merely a joke). And yes, S. was gay/bisexual--and frankly, for those of you who are prejudiced against that lifestyle, PLEASE DO NOT POST! I don't want to hear your hate... I have no patience for vitriol right now.
For the purpose of this thread, I am interested in what you think about bonds that are formed on the internet. I suspect you have all, at one time or another, felt an inexplicable connection to someone you see online represented only by words and pictures. And somehow, that person's spirit, or very essence, seems to shine right out of your computer screen.
Despite my grief, this very fact intrigues me on an intellectual level. How do we form such close bonds without actual interpersonal contact? And what does it mean for our future as a species?
*hugs* Kelsey, I can only begin to understand your grief. Being a..err, being of the net in so many ways it's not "ridiculous" at all to get attached to someone you've never physically met.
Because you've talked with them, shared your thoughts and stuff, you have indeed met them.
I've met a lot of people scattered across the globe over the years and I can't tell you how awesome our friendships have been, regardless of our age, race, sex, creed...the internet is a great equalizer; you have no appearances to worry about and while it's nice to see people face to face sometimes if all you want to do is chit chat, banter, and wonder you don't need all that flesh stuff in the way of it.
I'm always here for you...
Hey Kelsey, you are definitely not alone In fact for the last couple of years I made new friends ONLY on the net. I am lucky no one of them died, but one of my friends is experiencing a personal transformation that really hurts me cause I think it is not to her benefit. Well, there is only so much we can do...
Kelsey, first of al - *hug hug hug hug* and one more *hug*
secondly-- it's not ridiculous at all. I have only been on HP for five weeks and have met some wonderful people who I feel I have a friendship with. I can also say I would feel sadness if any one of them were to fall seriously ill or pass away. Friends can come around in all sorts of ways, the internet included. No matter that you friendship was online and not in *real* life, it was still a real friendship.
I think what bonds us on the internet, is the same things that bond us in life. Similar likes, and interests, things in common. We find communities and sites with people we can relate to, peole that will 'understand' us. People that will 'get' us. We all need friends and for some, the anonymity we can keep if we choose via the internet, allows us to get out there and meet people we may never have had the chance to.
When you are in a place, HP, for example, where others are there for the same reasons you are, doing the same things as you, feeling the same as you do-- it's hard not to feel a bond with them.
My wife and I extend our most sincere condolences. A friend is a friend no matter how you slice it, if you felt close to this person, than you were.
It is very easy to connect with people on the net ,its called an emotional connection.
Whether people tell the truth or not,we feel (emotions) we can identify with.
Years ago my sister and I used to chat on a well-known chat site. We had a ball ,good ,honest fun ,but I know there were many who played quite differently and for them it was life as they knew it, or a reality show complete with made-up characters. We heard of a person dying and witnessed a whole room of chatters mourn and audibly cry. That wasnt normal to me ,but it was very real to someone else.
I know you dont want advice and its too late to guard your emotions so stay strong my friend and try to mend you heart with positive memories of your friend.
Kiwi, I know what you mean about people who "play" on the internet, and I've certainly seen my share of those. S. was not one of them. Some people just have a "ring of truth" around them, but yes, it's still subjective, and some see more "truth" in one individual than others... I do realize how bizarre this situation is to some, and if I were not experiencing it myself, I'd probably be like... wtf! You don't even know if they're real!
About guarding my emotions, in this case I'm glad I didn't, because he was one of the most delightful and lovely people I've ever known, and even the pain of loss is worth the knowing...
lxxy, Misha, Janetta, Trooper22,
Thank you all for your lovely words (and *hugs*) :-). I've only really been meeting people on the internet since I found that forum so it's still rather new to me, but it is bizarrely compelling. And strangely comforting. I have to admit, there is something of simple convenience in friends you can just say goodnight too and turn off your computer. And there is such a strange and lovely freedom in not having to worry about getting to a specific physical location--as long as you have internet access , or thinking about how you look or what you are wearing...
But yeah, the distance and lack of physical proximity is also a barrier. And sometimes you don't have immediate ways to reach a person you may really want to. But it still astonishes me how close you can become to people you never (and probably never will) see...
Another friend of mine there refers to "real life" as the "meat world", LOL! And while we are all distant from one another (some more than others), it is also easier for us to come together and share our grief, and our stories about our friend...
Kelsey, for all the "baloney" that's "out there", there are also a lot of people who are very real behind their online words. People are people, and I think online friendships are just a new kind of relationship among humans. I don't think there's anything at all weird about feeling bad. I don't generally do chatting or make close friends, but even with just some casual exposure to people on sites I use, there are those times when someone will say something about some difficulty in their life; and one would have to not be human not to feel kind of bad or hope things work out ok for them. Some people end up being "off-line friends" (or more), and some remain "close" online friends.
I think baloney is easy for most people to recognize after more than a few online encounters. I've run into times on writing sites when administration will make the announcement that a member has passed away or is going through surgery (or whatever). I'm guessing you'll feel bad and then move on (kind of like when we know anyone else we don't know very well dies or loses someone close). I don't happen to get all that close to anyone online, but still I've had those times (like hearing someone had lost a child) when I feel bad even if I haven't "talked" to them, and have only "seen them around".
Yeah, that's what I meant by the "ring of truth." For me, and others, it was in one of many "chat threads" on that particular board--different groups of people getting to know each other. There's actually a lot of people there who have met in real life also.
Yeah, I can understand what you're saying. Either way, there are numerous people there I have also gotten to know. Some you gravitate to more than others, as you would in real life...
Thanks for your input
lxxy: "meatspace" LOL!
I hope you are feeling less pain by now.
It is natural to feel a sense of loss when some one you know dies. And in today's world when we are rushing off from one place to the other in real life, the only constant company is what we have online. These virtual friends are sometimes told things that you have not told family and friends. They are a huge part of your life and you need to accept that they too are human.
They too are mortal. So I hope you feel better soon, but continue to post on forums and make new friends.
Absolutely, Kelsey. This is just a new medium--but it's the same human stuff that makes the world go round. I met my last two boyfriends online (yes, still with the current one, going on 5 years now), so of course I believe in these kinds of connections.
People can trick each other in real life, too--I'd point out--that is nothing new. I also believe that word-oriented people may find MORE truth in people represented for them in that way. Don't think I'd doubt your instincts.
Sorry about your friend.
Cashmere & Lita, thank you both for your kind words :-). Lita, I'm glad you were able to form a long-term relationship with someone you might have never met except for the internet. And nice point about how sometimes it's easier to be more open about yourself when you have a greater sense of anonymity.
S. made almost 17,000 posts on that forum in the 25 months he was there (and over 50 threads). Even people he barely spoke to or interacted with are upset about his death. Apparently S. wanted his member account deleted in the case of his death (he knew how poor his health was). Some people are very upset about his account being deleted. On that forum it does not mean his actual posts will disappear, but we would be unable to view a list of all his posts and all the threads he made or search for things based on his account name.
Some members have been trying to explain to a very close friend of S.'s why they would like his account to remain intact; this friend is really struggling to understand why we are even asking him this when S. had made it clear that he wanted his account deleted in the case of his death. His friend doesn't seem to understand how we can be "grieving" someone none of us have ever met...
Sorry to hear of your loss....... maybe it is worse when you have never met the person actually........
You cant really go to the funeral or see the family things that are usually part of the grieving process....
and if you could do that even you would feel like you had done something positive........ Maybe just have to pray for the person, and to comfort you..... I will remember you in my prayers also..
Just to be morbidly silly, I wish to recount Vego the Carpathian...
"Death is but a doorway, time but a window, I'll be back."
Your friend's passing is a tragedy, but your love and memories will allow him to live on.
That is sad, I have made so many new acquaintances on HP , if something seriously happened to one of them I as well would be devastated. My condolences and it is o.k. to feel the way you do.
I just want to say therapy is for people that can't stomach vodka
Words can link us on a personal level. Sometimes it is better to be more like spirits floating in cyberspace. We slip by the natural tendency to discriminate based on appearance and get to know people at a different level. Yes we get fooled; we all do, but our connection is not with the real world person it is with the cyber world person.
I'm sure there is a real loss here and I'm deeply sorry for that; especially when it someone so young, but if it were not real you are still would be suffering the loss of your cyber friend and that feeling is real.
I'm sorry for your loss and I hope you can be comforted by your other cyber friends.
I don't think it's silly at all... :-)
I can't help wondering if he'd be shocked at how many people there are truly grieved at his loss. I think he may have been, but I also think he knew how much we all cared for him. Sadly, I think we appreciated him more than his own family did...
I know it's okay to feel the way I do, it's just frustrating that some people seem to have such a difficult time understanding how bonds can be formed on the internet...
Thanks lxxy :-)
Pete: Thank you. It's funny you mention "spirits floating in cyberspace": the day he died I picked up Charles de Lint's "Spirits in the Wires" http://books.google.com/books?id=M0Vr1F … p;resnum=5 a book that explores the way "meatspace" ;-) and the internet interrelate and change our perception of reality (it also addresses the idea that one's "shadow" as a reflection of the things you reject in yourself as you grow up).
I am and have been. And it's nice to hear the viewpoints of people who didn't even know him as well. Thank all of you for taking the time to share your thoughts... :-)
Family is only a group of people you accept into your heart, and although his parents apparently didn't, you did. And you were his family, as much as the rest of the board members.
That is so true. I do love my family, and I am truly blessed that they love me and honor who I am without expecting me to meet their preconceived ideas of who I should be... I wish everyone were so lucky. I've know too many people who felt they had to fit their parents' "idea" of who they "should" be rather than be who they felt they "needed" to be...
In the end, family is more than genetics. It's more than just "blood"--in the end, family is heart, and soul, and mind. It's being accepted for who you are, not who you "should" be...
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