Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Erin: The Wonders of the World-Wide Web

I signed with Sara back in January of this year. It is now October. We met for the first time, in person, about two weeks ago. 

When I mention that I finally got to meet my agent, most people react the same way: "That's so awesome! How was it?"

Exciting! Wonderful! Different!

And exactly the same.

Sara and I have been communicating digitally for nearly a year. Between the phone calls, emails, and tweets, we've gotten to know each other fairly well. (Twitter is the best, though. The amount you can learn about someone in 140-character snippets is truly amazing.)

So when Sara and I met up to chat last week, I asked her how her move went (she'd recently tweeted that moving with a 2yo was actually worse than moving preggers), and she asked me how my WIP was coming (I'd been tweeting about being thisclose to done). We sat down, having never seen each other face-to-face, and continued a conversation that had already been started elsewhere. And later, when I packed up my bag and we parted ways, the conversation didn't end. It picked up again on Twitter (I mentioned that my train was delayed and Sara shot back her apologies).

Earlier this summer, I flew to DC to attend a conference with a bunch of writer friends. Similarly, it was the first time I was meeting them in person. There was not a single awkward moment. It was as if we had all been friends our entire life, and in the way that I can spill a million stories to my old high school buddies after having not seen them in years, we were just picking up where we left off.

The internet has done some amazing things for communities, friendships, and communication in general. Digital conversations and in-person conversations have started to blend together, overlap, weave into one. Maybe it's due to the casual, chatter-like vibe of Twitter, or the on-the-go but still accessible nature of smart phone users. It's probably a little of both. Either way, it is fascinating to see how far technology has come in such a short time, how we can be miles apart and still interact with each other every single day. And so intimately, at that. We get to know someone so well that when we sit down to talk for the first time, it feels like (and is) the 500th.


People talk about "online" friends and "real-world" friends. Sometimes the "online" ones are are dismissed as being less than authentic. Weaker. Frivolous. But the truth is, some of the strongest friendships I've made in recent years are ones that have formed digitally. Friends are friends, period. It just so happens that today's technology makes it incredibly easy for many of these friendships to be forged online.

The internet – Twitter especially – has allowed me to connect with so many people in this industry, people I would never have had the chance to meet otherwise: agents, editors, writers, readers, bloggers, critique partners. Some of these people have become my dearest friends. For that, I am truly grateful.

Next time I'm in NYC, or traveling anywhere for that matter, I'll try to meet up with more of my "online" friends. Tweeting and emailing is great and all, but I can't really share a glass of wine with my computer screen. And unlike avatars, I like how a person can smile back at me.

9 comments:

  1. Great post! And I couldn't agree more about online friendships. One of my best critique partners is someone I've known "online" for almost 20 years(yes, before the "Internet" as we know it today).

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  2. Ah, the glory that is Twitter. And even though we've never met IRL, it's been glorious calling you my friend. :)

    Great post, Erin.

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  3. You're on my short list of people to meet IRL!

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  4. Amazing post! You're so right about how online friends can be dismissed as weaker and more frivolous. "Friends are friends, period." TRUTH, man.

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  5. @Dori -- I met my critique partner online as well, and I can't imagine how I'd have gotten by without her. But 20 years? Wow, that's something. Talk about a strong friendship :)

    @Jenny -- Right back at you! And we'll meet one of these days. I know it :)

    @Beth -- You know, I think an IRL short list sounds like a fantastic idea. I might have to start one of these myself.

    @Yahong -- Yeah, I don't know why some people shrug off online relationships. Another handful of years and I think the perception of them may be totally different.

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  6. Erin, really lovely post and everyone agrees,
    a friend is a friend no matter in what form.
    Remember Shirley Valentine? Even a wall
    can be your 'friend' :) What's great is that
    eventually you meet your friends but I guess
    that's easier if they reside in the States. I'm in
    Cape Town hehe. Nevertheless, you're most
    welcome!

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  7. There is practically no limits for what you can find in the Internet, it is an amazing tool.

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