Gifts from afar.

In our world at the moment, it seems that distance is now a function of time. Instead of America being several thousand miles away, it is more common to think in terms of hours. Some of my best friends are 6-8 hours away from me, while also being instantly accessible at a mouse click. So distance can be crossed in a microsecond, friendships that would have evolved over months of pen-pal type letters in the past are now able to develop at the same rate as those of neighbours.

Actually, I talk more to my friends online than I do my neighbours. I even talk to my neighbours online. Instantly available video, picture, sound, text enhances the communication we have between us. So why then do people still feel that internet friendships are somehow less real than physical ones. Why is it publically acceptable to call the person who lives a few streets away that you talk to on an infrequent basis a friend, but the moment you mention someone you met “online” the relationship is belittled?

I have grown to know, and indeed love people I have met online. If something were to happen to one of them, it would affect me as much as any other friend. Perhaps more, as the online friends I have probably shared more with, and had shared.

Recently I got the chance to meet a group of online friends, people I have known for a range of times, from a few months to a decade. Each of them was the person I had grown to care for, and then even more sparkly in the flesh. I guess, some of it is that I am able to detect false people online, after many years of practice, and these people hid nothing, asked nothing, shared everything with me in a reciprical manner.

But meeting them added another depth to it. Sharing the living spaces of these people, their hopes, dreams, wedding, being able to reach out and make contact if I choose. The friendships I had before were strong, and good. Now they are great, and amazing.

Today I got a gift in the post from one of them. A small token of friendship totally out of the blue. I cried. In this wonderful world, augmented by electronics and binary code, we have the ability to connect with people we otherwise would never have met. If you are one of those people limited to the “real world”, try it. You never know when someone will walk into your life from afar, and stay with you, in your heart, forever.

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