Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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08/25/2006: "Friends in the Machine"

I consider myself a pioneer of online friendships. I remember back some 14 years ago when I first discovered live chat…I was hooked; I recall Rick’s plaintive request to ‘come back to you “real” friends!’ but (let’s call him “Sunflower”) was my *real* friend. Of course, he turned out to be into polyfidelity and tried long and hard to convince me to move into his commune in the Ozarks but still…a friend.

I guess the medium made more sense to me than to those who only value the meaty goodness of actual face-to-face relationships. I read recently how Marja-leena had met her first blogger friends (blofends?) IRL and how great it was. I got me thinking of how soon I’ll get to meet some of my blofends IRL as well. These are people who, despite the fact I’ve never actually “met” them, I care about.

Of course, it could be a little like online dating…a lot of feverish email exchanges that go pfffft the second you actually meet…but I doubt that because friendships don’t require the elusive element of “physical” attraction to thrive.

So, these were my thoughts this morning when I took my monthly jaunt over to Granny Gets a Vibrator to see what she’s been up to and…it turns out she’s sick. Possibly *very* sick, as in, the big C. This woman who is so incredibly smart, funny, and a health-nut body builder in her 50s with a sexy painter boyfriend and a life anyone would be envious of…and it all happened so fast. One day “my asthma has been acting up” and the next, scary hospital biopsy. I was shocked by how hard I took the news, how sad and powerless it makes me feel. My heart goes out to her but I know if anyone can kick Brenda's (she named her tumor) ass, she can!

And speaking of health, I have two check-ups next month, one that is on the scary side, what if they find “something”…? Would I still go off to a new job and a new state where I don’t know anyone? I mean, cyber pals are well and good, but they can’t pick you up from a chemo appointment or check in on you to make sure you haven’t died in your sleep. (thank god I have paranoid co-workers who check in on me if I'm even slightly late to work)

Replies: 7 Comments

on Saturday, August 26th, Nathalie Winberg said

It was interesting reading about you, I liked a lot of what I saw of you art :). Sorry about your friend (felt I had to say something when I commented in this particular post.).

on Saturday, August 26th, Elise said

Nice to meet you Nathalie, I checked out your site too, I particularly like your ceramics and sculpture. What are the art programs like in Sweden?

on Saturday, August 26th, greg said

Elise - I'm sure after the disappointment of meeting me in RL, you'll move on to some real, real friends in Olympia! ;) I cant imagine a better place for an alaskified transplant to settle in ... 'cept maybe for Port Townsend (a town you MUST check out, with their wooden boat festival, etc!)

For some assurance, and free medical consultation, my Elise is an RN, and her family's first line of ache & pain screening. She'll be happy to talk to you anytime, I'm sure :)

Hope to meet you (and Jackie too!) soon, sometime. I've had few fun meeting with cyber firends, and it's never been a diappointment.

Let me know if there's anything I can help with ... (still waiting for my friend's info on Olympia).

on Saturday, August 26th, Elise said

Thanks for the offer of your Elise Greg!
Actually, I'm pretty healthy, it's just a routine screening thing because of family history but still, people generally think they're healthy until suddenly they aren't anymore...ya know?

My mom died very young from cancer so of course it is the one thing that terrifies me more than anything else. Still, you never think you'll be able to deal with something until you're confronted with it and then we tend to discover that we're stronger than we thought we were.

on Sunday, August 27th, Kasia said

Disease is something I am afriad of. And it is even worse when your friends or people from your family suffer. It is really unbearable....

About meeting net friends- it will happen for me next Saturday. I can't wait but at the same time - have butterflies in my stomach.

on Sunday, August 27th, Elise said

be safe Kasia, meet in a public place etc. You know, until you meet a net friend they could be anyone!

on Monday, August 28th, Jackie said

E: I've met quite a few cyber friends in the past - but long before blogging was in. My almost-ten year relationship is the result of a cyber-romance! So there's proof it can work.
That's so sad about

I'm hoping to meet some fellow bloggers IRL soon: Greg - that means you - no excuses (seemingly) since we're in the same city! And of course Elise, when she moves down here. And Marja-leena & Howard, who both reside in Vancouver - maybe I'll see one of their art shows IRL too!