It seems that work and my own will take me to new places to meet people I don’t know. It’s a gamble sometimes as I am usually on a flight alone heading into the company of a new friend or an old acquaintance I have never met face to face. A life online can do that. I have also travelled with people I know well and have known over time to less appealing outcomes.
The connections around the world that I make on a daily basis bring me close to people. Late night conversations on IM clients have shown me the personal lives of people thousands of miles away, their hopes, fears, current hang ups, love lives, work issues and surroundings. It’s an odd vision where so much is complete and yet the whole image can be a bit like tunnel vision. I love their company online, it’s like having visitors in for coffee, checking up, catching up.
On a recent work trip to a country I have only read about, I used social networks to get in touch with people on the ground. Usually there’s a work affiliated contact to put you in touch, but in writing about things online, it made sense to leave that method alone.
For work this was fine, but in fact the company I found was more valuable to me as these contacts became friends. One of the bloggers I met on my journey took time out to have some lunch with me. He wrote a post (that I cannot find yet and will link to when I do) about knowing people. He mentioned that we chatted like friends even on the first meeting while he barely knows his own neighbours.
The societal split in this way has been covered, how our communities exist not necessarily in the physical and traditional sense, but who do you call out for now when you need help? This used to be remarked upon as a sad disassociation, but I’m more inclined to think that it’s just different rather than wrong.
Support networks and friends online can provide a great deal when you need it most and of course when you don’t but you can maybe help someone else. Only trouble is, if a disconnect comes, do you have their numbers? Can you find them without being online?
I hope to keep travelling this way, my network has spread, it grows and changes as my proximity to others online ebbs and flows. I enjoy the company of those I cannot see and I miss those I met along the way and cannot share coffee with in person. It also means that if I can spend even odd moments in digital company just to pass the time, I have a richer set of options and an amazing array of cultures to explore and crack bad jokes with.