Meeting People (On The Net) Is Easy

1st August 2005

I consider myself to be reasonably well adjusted. I have an ordinary job. I have lived with two different girls (neither of whom resembled Lara Croft). I donít still live with my parents. I have a circle of friends. I donít read manga or watch Japanese movies with subtitles.

Now thereís nothing wrong with having a dead-end job; not having a girlfriend; spending all your time outside the house in the local comic shop obsessively searching for rare manga; discussing the various merits of Babylon 5 (Iím sure it has some); or obsessing about Japanese school girls with huge eyes. However, if more than three of those apply you should probably consider getting out more.

Normally, Iíd rather play video games then spend the evening mindlessly watching Celebrity Changing Location Brother from Hell. However when someone asks ďWhat did you do last night?Ē and you tell them that you spent some of your valuable spare time chatting to people on MSN Messenger, posting on a message board or playing Halo 2 with a bunch of Ďmatesí you can almost see them lumping you into the Billy No Mates category.

In this age of digital communication, World Wide Webs, Camera Phones and E-Mail why shouldnít someone have a valid friendship with a person theyíve never physically met? When you think about how you met a friend it probably falls into one of three categories:

1. You sat next to them at school / College

2. You live / lived near them

3. You work with them

All pretty random. So the idea of being friends who share enough of a common interest to play the same games, watch the same movies or like the same bands shouldnít be to fucking hard to comprehend should it?

Bill Gates and his hateful Microsoft have committed many crimes against IT (and in some cases specifically targeting my computer). But his MSN Messenger is a very useful piece of software for keeping in touch with friends old and new. Iíve met many great new friends via the wonders of MSN. Some people I talk to all the time, others just say "Hi" occasionally. Some have been close and drifted away (Yes, Xenophobe, Iím looking at you here). Itís brilliant for swapping advice, stories, music and pictures. Itís great for just saying "Hi". In fact itís great for doing all the things that friends would generally do. Are these friendships less worthwhile or any less valid than people Iíve randomly come into contact with in ĎReal Lifeí? Iíd have to say no.

So whatís the moral of this monthís column you ask? Remember that virtual people have feelings too.