2008-04-06

We Hardly Knew Ye


This post is not about “personal finance”—so skip it if you like.

“Meeting” people on the other ends of computer screens has always struck me as a little bid odd and a little bit fascinating. I remember first experiencing it maybe 20 years ago. There was not much of a Web at the time, and there were certainly no blogs. Your computer interface was more or less a flashing cursor at the end of a line of text, essentially a DOS or UNIX style prompt (for those of you who have any clue what those are). It was more a novelty, and not that many people were really doing it or doing it regularly. And if you were wondering, no, there weren’t any photos or avatars popping up next to someone’s message.

Now it’s all pretty common. Lots of people would probably tell you they have numerous interactions with clients or other business contacts strictly through e-mail—nothing in person and maybe not much by phone either. Online dating has practically fallen into the mainstream. (For all I know, it already has, and I’m years out of date.) And people regularly share intimate details of their personal lives (or their personal finances) with the world through blogging. In some cases, it’s information that they’re not also sharing with their family, friends, and next-door neighbors!

You read a blog for a while, comment a bit or maybe not, and you feel like you know that person. Maybe you do, maybe you don’t. But I’m going to say that there’s some kind of relationship that’s been formed. According to MyBlogLog, BlogCatalog, or StumbleUpon, you may even be “friends”!

I just found out one such person that I met through the blogosphere has passed away. It was a little jarring really. I had noticed that she hadn’t posted anything for a while, and it seemed out of character to me, but what did I know? So when I got the ping that there was a new post—who can remember which website, service, or reader delivered it—I moseyed on over to the blog.

The post was from a relative, stating she had passed away quite suddenly, and leaving some last thoughts from what I’ll call her journal.

This was a young blog from a young person (though admittedly, my threshold for using the word “young” keeps aging, as I get older and more decrepit). The blog was literally only four or five weeks old, and I had been reading it for less time than that. I had left a couple of comments along the way, and I had another one or two exchanges with the blogger through blog-community websites. Add them all up and I’m not sure you’d say we’d ever had half a conversation.

So I guess I was a little surprised how sad I was that this person on the other side of the planet—whom I’d barely communicated with, never met, and never expected to meet—was gone.

But she left behind a positive message, so it seems only right to honor that. The positive message for me is: that’s actually pretty cool that someone on the other side of the world can reach out and leave that kind of effect on people. So me feeling sad is actually pretty neat, huh?

So I'm going to be happy and smile. She didn’t know me either, but she’d have wanted it that way.

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