More Than Pixels

The People Who Get You

Yesterday was an exceptionally strange day on twitter, in that an extremely length discussion started from something that @AlternativeChat said, and then spawned a side conversation including myself, @Jaedia, @BraxWolf and @GGChestnut regarding the nature of twitter and online connections.  The later conversation seemed to rope in at least half of my friends at one time or another.  Ultimately it started with the tweets above, and then grew a life of its own.  I come from a very small town.  To illustrate my point, I graduated from a class of roughly sixty students.  When you live in an environment like that, you ultimately develop friendships based around what was actually available.  So while I had many friends growing up, I also had the constant feeling that very few people actually “got me” on any real fundamental level.

I didn’t like the things I was supposed to like, and didn’t react the way to stimulus that I was supposed to react.  But in that situation you make the best friends you have available to yourself and make due.  It was not really until I stepped foot onto the internet and moved to college that I started to meet people I felt a deeper connection with.  There were in fact people out there whose life did not revolve around the football game, and did not think the pinnacle of their existence was getting drunk at a broken down picnic area beside a creek imaginatively referred to as “tables”.  I’ve lived much of my life with this sense that the world wanted me to play a role that didn’t quite fit.  When I leave the house, it is as though I am putting on my “man suit” and trying to be the person that the world just assumes that I am.  I like video games, if I watch television I am generally watching cartoons, and I deeply care about what is going on in the world of Lego this season.  I am not “normal”.

More Than Pixels

Since I did not exactly have a lot of examples of people that I could relate to in the flesh, I cherished the few individuals that I did find a connection with.  So when I interact with someone, I try and approach it as though I could be meeting a brand new life long friend.  I got into a discussion during the day with Brax about how he feels that physical relationships are just different than digital ones.  Ultimately I feel like it is only different if you are making it different.  I guess maybe I come from a different place on this than most people.  I would not know my very awesome wife were it not for the fact that we were both IRC junkies back during the dawn of the internet.  We became friends when we were introduced by a mutual friend living in Belgium, and later found out we grew up thirty minutes apart.  So when I think about my own beginnings, I find it impossible not to think about the person behind the screen when I interact with anyone.

I realize that just because I feel this way about the people I surround myself with, that it isn’t automatically a two way street.  For many of the people that follow me on Twitter, read my blog or listen to my podcasts…  I am in fact just a collection of pixels assembled on their screen that they happen to find appealing.  There is nothing that I can do or will ever be able to do to bridge that gap.  However I do find that there are people out there that I make a real and genuine connection with, and ultimately cherish them for their willingness to care about individuals that in the strictest sense they have no obligation to.  I’ve often said it is the way you treat the people you don’t have to be nice to, that is what reflects your personal character the most.  When you interact with someone online, you are seeing the real person… the one that is buried deep inside.   We are all either inherently the villain trying to cause strife, or the hero attempting to right it.

Sharing Myself

One of the conscious decisions I made a few years ago was that I would be open to my readers.  For the first several years of my blog I didn’t really talk about myself at all.  I would keep my posts limited to strictly the facts about the game I happened to be playing, but ultimately I am more than just the games I play.  I knew if I was going to manage to blog on a daily basis, I had to allow myself to talk about all of the things that were important to me.  So each morning I open my door and invite strangers into my world.  I walk this fine line however because I still cling to the relative anonymity of a “handle”.  My goal is to tell real stories, but just leave out the names, places and finest levels of details.  As a result I think you end up with a greater truth than had I said everything, because I have boiled whatever I happen to be talking about to the essentials that matter, leaving out the strictest minutiae.  To quote Dragnet “Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent”.

Brax asked me if I found keeping up this personal aspect difficult as I continue to widen this circle of people I interact with.  On some level I would say that yeah, it becomes much harder to keep your finger on everything that is going on.  That said I have developed a realization that I will never be able to read every tweet or blog post or keep tabs on every person in my life.  The interaction aspect isn’t that hard because each day I am just being me.  Once upon a time my guildies used to refer to a persona I would adopt as “Rockstar Bel”, in that I would wear this mask of a person that amplified all the characteristics that I wished I was.  Over time, and developing a certain level of confidence I have started to actually be this amped up version of myself.  Which goes back to the statement I made earlier…  when you encounter someone online, you get the see the person they really are, the person they have a potential in becoming.  I think slowly, bit by bit I am becoming that person that I always wished I was, the one that actually believed I could accomplish interesting things.  Maybe some day I will get there, but in the mean time I am going to keep sharing the ride with anyone who is willing to join me.

8 thoughts on “More Than Pixels

  1. Really enjoyed this post. The ‘never fitting in’ part especially resonates with me, as it was much the same for me. I was lucky to find people that were more like me during the last part of highschool. After over ten years they are still my friends (I was just counting the years – makes me realize how incredibly lucky I am to have them).

    And then I met this guy I really enjoyed playing with in LotRO… and more and more… To me he was a real friend, but like you say, you never know if it’s the same for the person on the other side of the screen. Still cannot describe the feeling when he decided to move to the Netherlands to live with me (unfortunately we didn’t live 30 mins apart, more like 1500 km apart). But I digress. I agree: friendship over the internet is real friendship.

    I guess I’m more like you used to be in posting: I don’t really share all that much about myself in my posts. I simply don’t know how to do that in a way that would suit myself and my readers. That said, I really enjoy the more personal posts you write (like this one) It really gives an idea about the person behind the blog. 🙂

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: