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An Early Morning ThoughtJuly 21, 2010

This is a small thought, but it feels important. Over the years, I've been lucky enough to meet readers of this blog, and there's a common refrain: "I feel like I know you, but that must be weird. I know I don't..." I usually ask if they leave comments, and if so, what their email is(because I have a strange brain in that I forget names but remember email addresses, so that can jolt me into recognition). I always want to reassure them, and I'm never sure quite how to do it.

Thought: We *do* know the people we read online, exactly as well as we know other people in our lives. Online, I choose the stories I tell you, yes. But in real life, I do the same thing. My family, of course, knows me better than this, because they know how I act when I'm acting badly (hopefully that's not often). But everyone else? Friends, coworkers (happy to have some nice overlap there), they know the me I present to them. It's the same for you.

And just because you know me from the internet doesn't mean it doesn't count. In fact, I tell stories here that I don't tell anywhere else. You listen. You remember. And I remember that you're doing that, and I'm grateful.

Tonight, I started missing my friend Grace. She lives in Canada, and she doesn't have a blog, but she's been commenting for years and YEARS, and I know her, or at least I know what she tells me. And that's enough for me. I love her. She's my friend. I realized I hadn't heard from her in a while, not a proper email, so I just nagged her a few minutes ago, and now I'm blogging about her, so I'm sure she'll pop up soon. (I think she should start a blog. She, like many others, probably thinks I should check FB more often. Which I just did when I realized I could, and I spied on her a bit, and now I feel better.)

But this is real. Remember years ago, when we'd talk about our online circle and people thought we were nutso, talking about invisible friends? We weren't nuts then, and at least people understand it a little better now.

I love this circle, and I'm glad you're a part of it. (Insert Mr. Rodger's theme song here.)

Mwah.

Comments

Some of my best friends (and a few sweeties) started as invisible!

And we are too nuts, but not in that way ;-)

I heart this post!

I've had invisible online friends for going on 15 years, but I'm still a very real, functional, and social person in real life. It's amazing to connect with people around the world with similar interests (or not, sometimes just random connections).

Cheers,
SudsyMaggie on the Twitter
http://www.maggiesudduth.com/

Mwah back atcha, sweet! You're spot on, we DO know each other. It's been what, six years now? wow. so many changes. You'd just moved in to the apt. where George, the giant agave lived. Banjo girl hadn't quite made the scene. You'd just figured out you could drag your laptop outside and write there. And look at you now! thanks for being here.

awwww. now i feel all warm and fuzzy. which i don't usually comment-just follow along silently.

But my daughter (Crystal) and I went to see you at the Romance Writers' Convention in Columbus earlier this year. We were still about half way down the aisle and saw you sitting there and I shrieked "Oh my god, she looks just like her pictures"! I managed not to point only because it was extremely crowded. And because I think Crystal would've stabbed me with one of my knitting needles.

Thank you, Rachael! What a lovely post--makes me feel better that I can refer to you as a friend and not feel all odd about it.
Kisses!
Jen

Thanks for posting this!

Good morning, neighbor!

Hello invisible friend! I often have the feeling that I'll run into you someday...maybe in an airport or a cafe or just walking down the street. I'm convinced it will happen so keep that in mind when someone comes up to you and says, "Hi Rachael! I'm your invisible friend from Vancouver!". Love you...love your blog!

this is is so very true. When I am telling my family about a "blog" friend I always find myself prefacing it with "well, I really don't 'know' her/him" but I feel like that cheapens our friendship.

Recently my daughter had her hair done by a blog friend. We laughed when realized that we had never met but felt like we knew each other oh so well...

Mwah right back atcha, from your invisible friend in the Sunshine State!

Racheal, I felt I knew you very well before meeting you the first time between your blog and your Dads stories!! But meeting you just confirmed everything.....I'm thinking this tells me that our instincts are far more powerful than we think. I know I have made internet friends as far away as Nova Scotia and the Netherlands and Germany!! Family joke for a long time....."How do you turn a $20 teapot into a $50 teapot in five minutes?"....."Let mom find a friend in Nova Scotia who collects them!!!"

You are a fabulous neighbor to have, lady, online or off.

Which actually reminds me: I'm on track to move back to the Bay Area in a while. Oakland's on my list, but I've never lived on that side of the hills (and I've been away more than a decade). I thought, "I should ask Rachael H. about Oakland--I like her, I trust her, and she'll give me the plain unvarnished." Would you mind if I email later on to hear what you think of your fair city?

I thought of you and digit this morning reading this post on dooce.

There has been a bit of discussion about this recently in other internet circles where I travel. Many authors who engage in the "new publicity" to get the word out about their books (blogging, Twitter, attending cons) have written posts basically saying that just because you've followed an author's blog for months or years, don't assume that you are friends with that author. That's why I am cautious to say that you are my friend. There is only one Rachael for me to remember details about; you have so many people who comment, I don't expect you to remember me.

Well, I hear more stories from you than you hear from me. Partly because you actually post consistently, not like, say, me. So, in that way I feel like I know more bits of you than you would know of me. But I'll take the Mwah! And Mwah! backatcha!

And it's always fun to run into you out there in the non-virtual world!

I think of you as someone I know. I would have met you when we visited the US if you hadn't been working, but we met other invisible friends, some of whom I've known since 1996. Have a great day!

Thanks for checking out the FB. I think that's my blog substitute. It's where I talk to my fam and post nutty pictures and my stellar Scrabble scores. But, ya, I've been neglectful in the real letter department. And I miss you too!

grace

I love it when you meet a "pretend" friend in person for the first time, and you just spontaneously hug like you've "known" each other forever. Because, you know: You have!

I am certainly glad that I had the privilege of running into you at Rhinebeck a few years ago!

I'm really bad at commenting, but I do talk back to your posts in my head. (Just what you wanted to hear, eh?) And I haven't given up hope that we'll be in the same place at the same time eventually, at which point I will introduce myself.

Rachael

I just finished your book - loved it!!

My best friend and I connected when I left her a comment on etsy that I liked her yarn. Folks I have met in line at Stitches are my good friends still yet because I read their blogs. The internet is an amazing place, and we are fortunate to be able to take advantage of it for all the good stuff.

I really feel like I know you - and if we met in the flesh, we'd get along famously. Especially since you were so kind to grant my daughter an interview. (Which she is still inordinately proud of.)

Grace! She is my pajama day friend! And now, I'm going see if I can find her on FB. Yay for the circle!

I know just what you mean, but my favorite part is getting to meet blog-friends in person, especially after years of reading!

Mwah! Come back to LA soon!

I agree, Rachel. I get a lot of support and knowledge from people who I only know online. It's not like having TV characters as friends because those are actors and there's no responsiveness. Online friends ARE friends, and it is very nice to meet them in person.

One of the best parts of moving so (damned) frequently is that with the internet and online circles of friends, it feels like we have friends in every city--especially true for here in the Bay Area. And when our next move happens (and it will), I will rely on my internet friends to point me to the fiber fun (and if there is chocolate and also wine, so much the better!)

Glad to be here :)

When I talk about you, I always say "my blog friend Rachel". The best part of family is the ones we choose, and I am proud to count you as a friend. Maybe you'll even make it up to meet the beasties!

aw, what a great post. I think you have so many invisible friends because you exude so much warmth and love in your writing, and in person. xoxo.

That is so sweet!

Thanks so much for talking about this valuable topic. I also say things on my blog that I don't talk about with some circles of friends because they know me in a different context. I will say that I blog but that is it. Obstensibly, my blog is about travel into spirituality via 12 step programs, but it makes perfect sense to me to include other blogs such as yours, 2 photography ones and one from a writer in Hawaii. They all have a joy and a sense of gratitude about life as well as keen, loving observations. We were given a life to enjoy and I learn from others all the time, love to all! You were my first blog, from just before you met Lala, and you are often the first one that I read. Cheers from NH!

I met my husband online in 1997. I was on a 14k dial-up modem, using my Sega Saturn to browse the internet (the browser was contained on a CD-Rom, the modem went into the game cartridge slot, and my mouse and keyboard plugged in where the joysticks would normally go). There was no IRC back then.

We've been married for 11 yrs this month, but my point is that he moved in (from Canada) exactly 20 days before our wedding. Before he moved in, we'd spent all of THREE WEEKS in each other's physical presence, and not in a row. The rest was online.

So yeah, there ARE people out there who misrepresent themselves on the internet, but the vast majority of us aren't psycho killers (fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa far better) and it's possible to really get to know someone online.

I love you too, Rachael, even though I know you far better than you know me. And I was happy to meet you in person at Maryland Sheep & Wool in 2005. I have followed your blog for a long time and wouldn't miss it for anything.

I am afraid I comment about as much as I talk in real life, which is not a lot, unless I am a margarita or so down.

In any case, I like to read your blog and about what you're doing. When you're happy it makes me happy and when you're sad I wish I could cheer you. And that's pretty much as close to friendship as I can think of, so hi!!! (waving wildly)

It's our own cyberculture, we know each other but we don't really know each other. Oddly enough I am writing a paper on online relationships for one of my grad courses.

What an absolutely appropriate blog, you read my mind! (c:

Yeah, I am careful when I bring up an internet friend. Fortunately, DH gets it and says things like "yeah, I know who Rachael is" when I launch into my explanation before telling him the cool thing I read on your blog. With co-workers and acquaintences, I'll just refer to "a friend" without going into the explanation.
Sometimes I mention, "this person who writes a blog that I read". I get questions like "*Who* is this person?" "Why are you reading this?" "Is this someone you know?".
Or why do I have a blog? a knitting blog? Well, I read knitting blogs and sometimes I leave comments and I thought they might like to know who I am...
I get a lot of confused looks. Of course, many are stuck on "knitting blog"! :-D

Hello my efriend! Like everyone else, I would like to thank you for acknowledging your invisible friends. Also - congrats on the mention of your book in Vogue Knitting Magazine. You (very deservedly) were among the select few mentioned. Smile!!!!

Hello my efriend! Like everyone else, I would like to thank you for acknowledging your invisible friends. Also - congrats on the mention of your book in Vogue Knitting Magazine. You (very deservedly) were among the select few mentioned. Smile!!!!

It's funny because I was giving a copy of your book to my sister-in-law and I told her who you were and how you started writing and then I realized I was talking like I "know" you, like I was giving her a book written by my friend...and she thought the same thing...then she asked, "How do you know her?" and I paused and said, "Oh I don't know her really, I just read her blog and she emailed me once." And I felt awkward. Now I feel less awkward. Thanks.

I read your blog, but I rarely comment. As I came here tonight, I thought to myself "I bet Rachael would love Fluevog shoes." And then immediately thought - why would I think that, I don't really know her or maybe she already knows about them.

Then I get to this entry - about knowing people online.

So, in case you have never seen Fluevogs - here you go:

http://www.fluevog.com/code/?w[]=gender:women

I have not purchased a pair yet, I want to try them on before committing that much money. I just visit them online every couple of months.

I love that Grace checked in! Very cool.

I love what you said about online friends. I just had one invite me to her wedding. I protested that she should meet me F2F once (she's in Michigan) to make sure I'm me and not some creep 60-yr-old guy pretending to be me. "Nah," she said.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Rachael loves it when book clubs read her work! She's happy to attend book clubs that read her books either in person or via Skype. Contact her at rachael@rachaelherron.com to make arrangements.

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