Virtual Reality

I’ve taken to watching odd channels on TV. I no longer watch local or national news. I still watch what used to be Court TV, A & E and the Discovery Channel, but only when there is programming with regard to real crime and forensics.

In between, I casually flip around and see what the rest of the 180 channels are about.

I can’t watch the Food Networks anymore. Too fattening, and an unreal portrayal of what it takes to create something delicious. Reality TV bites. I can’t stomach it. TV, as a whole, is pretty much junk entertainment, but like many times in real life I must have junk food and junk entertainment.

Last night, I flipped over to a Gamer’s Channel. (!) Who knew that there existed an entire network devoted to playing computer games? The program dealt with virtual reality, and how “virtual” reality is now becoming the real thing. Gamers no longer play the computer, but now they can play each other online.

This caused me to think. I believe most of my reality is “virtual” reality. I’m not sure if that’s a sad state of affairs or if that’s the wave of the future. I don’t play games online, but I certainly have an online presence.

I’ve made a lot of online friends. I have an Internet boyfriend. Many of my in-person friends and most of my relatives find staying in touch online as easier. Except for the connection fees, it’s cheaper. It’s more immediate than writing a letter in your best penmanship, although I’ve been known to visit the local card shop and pick out something pretty to send via snail mail.

The Internet is my virtual reality.

It’s my little community.

Through friendship with others like me, I share my pain and my pleasure. If I want to learn about people on the other side of the globe, I can. The Internet is my school and library. It’s the town hall and the shopping mall.

Last week, I talked to an online friend using my computer. It was really cool! This accomplished even though we’re on different time zones. The next step: getting a web cam so we can all chat at the same time. Unlike the chat rooms of old, we will be able to actually hear each other speak.

It’s a brave new world out there.


My Internet Girlfriends

Yesterday, I wrote a post about my internet boyfriend. I’d been meaning to do that for a long while, because I felt the compelling urge to explain the situation. In other places, I have penned rather poorly written poetry and other such nonsense singing his praises. These lame outpourings did not really address my true feelings adequately.

Today, I will discuss my internet girlfriends. I actually have a lot more of internet girlfriends than I do male internet friends. 

The first group of internet girlfriends I found in an AOL chatroom in 1998. At the time, we were all mothers of young children looking for beanie babies. This was at the height of the beanie baby craze, and at first we exchanged ideas on how to score. We traded, and then I found out smuggling them from Canada was profitable. The group had over 26 members in the beginning, and over the years, we have lost most of them. It’s now down to a more manageable eight members. I’ve met three, with four to go.

Over the last nine years, we’ve shared our concerns with our children. Some are brilliant, and some have had learning problems. Most are college-aged or close to it now. We’ve gone through marriages, divorces, boyfriends, and another marriage. We’ve shared in home remodeling, recipes and yard tips. We’ve lived through the Columbine shooting (one lives in Littleton), and September 11th (one was once a broker working in one of the Towers, and so knew many people who died that day, the other’s neighbor was one of the pilots of the plane downed in Pennsylvania). There have been deaths of parents and family members. Through it all, we’ve been supportive.

At one time, we lobbied Oprah to put us on her show. Oprah has ignored our pleas. I guess it’s not important enough for her.

My more recent internet girlfriends were met through common interests on another site. Through discussions, we’ve found that we shared other passions and pasttimes. I’ve met several of those girls “in the flesh” and all have been sweet, smart and interesting to be with. While our relationships haven’t been very long in duration of time, they’ve been fulfilling in other, deeper ways.

What I find most interesting about meeting my internet girlfriends in the real world is that we bond and react as though we’ve known each other forever. I met a couple of them in Las Vegas once, and we all dragged our kids to the restaurant for our first meeting. My kids thought it was completely strange that we would be laughing and joking as though we were old friends. The little ones took a liking to my son, who was just becoming a teenager. They hugged him around his legs, and looked like little people ornaments attached to his thighs.

I’ve recently met a couple of women in California, and both are thoughtful, intelligent and strong women. Again, the familiarity was comfortable. I could honestly say, “I know you!” Meeting these special people is like looking into a mirror and seeing your true friend.

In some ways, it doesn’t seem strange to befriend people this way. The internet is the new community. It’s the new town and the new world. I’m a half a world away from the physical communities where I grew up, detached by miles of land from my family members. My internet girlfriends give me the gifts of their strength, their humanity and their creativity.