The Internet Life

Do you remember life before the Internet? I barely do.

It’s hard to imagine that there are some people I know best (or only) via the WWW. I was chatting with a friend the other evening and he commented on how he’s got a better handle on my personality via IM than he ever had from dealing with me in person.

Maybe that’s because when we see each other in person it’s always related to our jobs and there really isn’t much time to talk about anything other than technology. Not that we don’t spend most of our online time talking about technology and work too, but the other night we got onto other topics that probably would never come up when we happen to be in the same room.

It all got me thinking about how I interact with people via some kind of online chat – I’m in the age range where it’s not the most used medium for our generation, but I spent so many years developing relationships with remote co-workers that were exclusively via IM maybe I’m just more comfortable expressing myself that way.

There are a lot of people on my chat client list that I don’t regularly chat with anymore, but it’s nice to see them there throughout the day. I remember when one of my old colleagues switched jobs and wasn’t able to connect to IM from his office. I went through weeks of being really unnerved by the fact that he wasn’t showing up on my list. It was like some put up a wall between us that I couldn’t figure a way around.

Then there is another tech friend of mine who I know is pretty much accessible anytime. He’s not always on IM, but if he’s got a phone signal he’ll usually get back to an email or a text. I sent him tech question yesterday knowing full well that was skiing in Canada. I wouldn’t have minded if he waited until he returned to get back to me – but sure enough he replied within 10 minutes. Is it better for him that he’s that totally connected or is it a pain in the ass?

Maybe because we both are in an industry where we are available to be paged or alerted by our office servers when they are in need, we don’t mind being available to real people, too.

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