It must have been about 1998 that I found this poem online. As a 15-year-old ‘geek’ who spent a lot of time on mIRC speaking to strangers, chatting on message boards and making ‘friends’ it really spoke to me. I printed it out and put it on my wall.
We sit and we type, and we stare at our screens,
We all have to wonder, what this possibly means.
With our mouse we roam, through the rooms in a maze,
Looking for something or someone, as we sit in a daze.
We chat with each other, we type all our woes,
Small groups we do form, and gang up on our foes.
We wait for somebody, to type out our name,
We want recognition, but it is always the same.
We give kisses and hugs, and sometimes flirt,
In IMs we chat deeply, and reveal why we hurt.
We do form friendships – but – why we don’t know,
But some of these friendships, will flourish and grow.
Why is it on screen, we can be so bold,
Telling our secrets, that have never been told.
Why is it we share, the thoughts in our mind,
With those we can’t see, as though we were blind.
The answer is simple, it is as clear as a bell.
We all have our problems, and need someone to tell.
We can’t tell “real” people, but tell someone we must,
So we turn to the ‘puter, and to those we can trust.
Even though it is crazy, the truth still remains,
They are Friends Without Faces, and odd little names.
by Thomas Teague
I loved how true it was, and even though it was written so long ago it’s still an ongoing reality for a huge amount of people. And I feel that years down the line I’m a lucky person to have made actual friends from these strangers with ‘odd little names’.
Some of these people live in other countries and it’s not likely that we’ll ever meet, but I would still call them friends. Others I have met only a handful of times but would call them friends. Some I meet regularly and would definitely call them friends. When the internet first became something you could have in your home, people thought I was weird to go and meet these people who I had never seen in real life, had never heard their voices or even knew what they looked like (it was unusual to post up photos of yourself back then). It was odd to travel, meet and spend a whole day with strangers – but they weren’t really strangers. And I enjoyed the buzz of nervous adrenaline involved.
It’s less unusual these days what with internet dating, and Catfish regularly shows us the dangers of meeting and trusting people online. I’m lucky that I’ve never knowingly been duped or in danger from any of the people I have “met” and count my blessings that the small group of people I have become acquainted with have turned out to be who they say they are. Most recently I have become part of the blogging community more and mostly with runners – they’re a lovely lot. Running certainly brings people together through sharing their stories, struggles and achievements, and I’m really glad to be a part of it.
It’s a strange place, the internet. We share more openly and honestly than we would face to face. We can air our anxieties, problems and wishes. We can create a stronger appearance of ourselves and be selective with how people really see us, all in the name of popularity and being liked. But when it comes to the crunch we all just want to be accepted for who we are.