Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Needlessly Philosophical

I've been thinking a little bit about the nature of internet friendships and relationships recently.

Of all the people I've 'met' since I started putting things into the internet instead of just taking things out.

Those I'm still in touch with and those who drifted away.

Those who died out in the real world and left a quiet space in the virtual world where I knew them.

Of the communities I've been a part of.

And they really are like nothing else.

All human relationships start with a small amount of information and build their way up from there.

You bump into someone on the street and you're both wearing the same band t-shirt and you might end up a part of that person's life for 10 years based on that one thing that caught your eye and that just happened to be one aspect of a person who had enough in common with you and enough diversity from you to be an awesome friend.

You bump into someone on the internet and there's some of that same initial information gathering but it happens on a slightly different scale and under different conditions.

Whether you roam the internet under a pseudonym or under your real name, with a photo avatar or a screen cap of your favourite character, you are only putting small slices of your personality online at a time.

Whether it is on Twitter, on a blog, as part of a forum community or anywhere else on the internet, it is offering parts of yourself in bite-sized chunks.

If you read something someone has written and it resonates with you, you want to read more.

If it keeps resonating with you and you don't hit a sample that reveals that they believe something that you very much definitely do not, you start to feel a connection with them even before you've exchanged any kind of communication.

Communicating with people you know exclusively online allows you to slowly build a better picture of them, though there's always some things that you'll have trouble getting a feel for without ye olde body language or facial expressions, and there's the fact that when we're presenting ourselves there are always things we push to the fore or shove to the back or simply forget about.

This doesn't mean that internet friendships are any less valid, on the contrary a lot of the internet friendships I've had have been very deep and supportive and I've said things to internet friends that I've not shared with real life meat-space friends just because our dynamic is different.

With text-based communications there are opportunities for miscommunications or personal-bias interpretations but there is also the potential for really deep exchanges.
You get the chance to think things out and lay those thoughts down in a way that they wouldn't come out if spoken.
You get to show a different side to yourself and the see the different sides of many other people.

You can learn a lot about yourself by talking with people online.
You notice habits you have, turns of phrase or tendencies that with reflection reveal things about you that you weren't even aware of.
You can become aware of biases or presumptions that you weren't even aware you held.
You can find the courage to be your online self in the real world or to share your real self in the online world.

Or you can just dick around having a good time without getting so introspective.

Losing touch with someone you only known online can be quite jarring.
If you have no way of contacting them you have no idea if they've stopped updating their website/visiting your community/commenting on photos because they're busy/have lost interest/got a romantic partner and are too busy having crazy sex all the time/forgot their password or if they might be sick or even dead.

When someone drops out of contact you keep checking back, hoping that they're OK, wondering what's up and depending on the situation you may one day find out or you may just have to accept that they're gone and move on.

Sometimes, like regular meat-space friendships, you lose contact with someone because something specific happens - like a conflict - or you finally find that bit of information that makes you realise that the two of you aren't quite as similar as you thought and things gently drift apart.

The perceptions we bring to the internet are pretty much the same ones we bring to real life.

We build a picture of a person based on the information we have and then fill in the gaps.

Depending on the person we may idealise them a bit and then have to revise as we take into account their human flaws and foibles, the same way you do in real life.

It's just easier to hang onto the you-built-version of a person for longer online and that can either facilitate the start of something else, maintain a great friendship or lead to disappointment further down the track when you realise you were wrong.

Getting to know people online is amazing.

Even when it goes wrong it can show you other parts of life and the world that you may not have seen before.

Some of it may be stuff you would rather not have seen but for most people the stuff you treasure makes all that other bullshit worth wading through.

Sunday, 21 October 2012


With a little bit over a month until my friend's wedding we were all running about getting the last important big ticket items locked in.

Making sure we'd had our bridesmaid dresses altered, hair and make up had been scheduled, flowers had been arranged, the menu had been planned, the celebrant and photographer booked, accommodation confirmed, the usual.

Last Sunday I got a phone call which I assumed was going to be about buying our shoes or arrangements for the hen's night or something.

Turns out the wedding is off...




I was shocked.

And then I thought about it and I wasn't.

And then I was shocked that I wasn't shocked.

So I guess my original shock was just surprise rather than having trouble wrapping my head around the fact.

They've been together for 6 years and have been fairly solid for that time but they had their problems and had never really given off that 'soul mate' vibe.
Going into a marriage you'd assume you'd want that 'I want to be with this person forever' vibe to be pretty strong or you'd wonder if it was really a good fit.

My friend seems to be taking things surprisingly well - probably another indicator that she's done the right thing - and so my main concern will be being there for her when she needs me.

Even if she's done the right thing you have to assume there will be some 'I've just come out of a 6 year relationship' emotional turbulence somewhere down the track.

Now if only I could get my brain to fully absorb this new reality and stop thinking stupid things like this:

  • "I'm forgetting something... Oh, right! I still haven't picked a song to request for the receptio- Oh..."
  • "Man, I had better buy my shoes pretty quickly or- Oh..."
  • "I haven't got my outfit organised for the hen's ni- Right..."
  • "Better remember to ask my boss for time off so I can help organise the- No, wait..."
  • "I wonder if they've got all the RSVPaaahwaitasecond..."
Get this straight, brain, before you say something really inappropriate at a really stupid time.

No, not like usual, I mean really bad.

The other inappropriate stuff you say is friggin' hilarious, you keep that up.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Elusive Architecture

Architecture is a bastard.

There's a type of room I've wanted to include in my dream house floor plan for ages. I’ve known about this room since I’ve been to a couple of houses that featured it but I had to do a bunch of weird and sort of randomly worded searching to actually find out what it was called.

A mud room.

I’m sure there are other names for it but all the ones suggested by helpful folk were a bit too general for internet image searches.

When I plugged in ‘vestibule’, ‘lobby’, ‘antechamber’ and other entrance way type names, I got an array of pictures or descriptions which didn’t match what I was envisioning.

I finally hit upon the term ‘mud room’ and all the images that turned up for that term are exactly what I meant.

And I didn’t know how much I wanted one until I saw that bundle of images pop up.

They satisfy my organisation, tidiness and keeping-muck-out-of-my-house urges.
And my no-i-am-not-going-to-have-jackets-hanging-on-the-back-of-every-single-door determination.

These things here…

…very useful sure but once you’ve bought one you’ll end up with a whole collection of the damn things.

Put your coat in the wardrobe or have a special coat wardrobe if you’re into clothing segregation.
Don’t have them taking space up on the back of every bedroom, laundry and whatever-else door.
They make the room look all cluttered and you can’t open your doors all the way.

A mud room.

Added to the ‘must have’ list for my notional ‘one day’ house.

Disclaimer: My house will never at any time contain that many baseball caps.

Monday, 8 October 2012

The Sunnies Saga

I admit I get a bit attached to things.

Not in a deep emotional way, for the most part, but I don’t like throwing things out while they still work and I don’t like losing things when I’m still using them.

So when I couldn’t find my sunglasses on Saturday when taking the family dogs for a walk, I assumed I’d left them at my flat.

When I got back to my flat and remembered to look around for them, they weren’t there either.

In the car?



This meant one of two things.

I hadn’t searched around at my parents’ house thoroughly enough or I’d lost them somewhere.

This was bound to drive me crazy.

I hate losing things.

I did some more searching.

I texted people I’d spent time with at the end of the week.

I did some extra searching in some slightly outlandish places where I might have put sunglasses down but would have been highly unlikely to.
Example: the freezer.

I admitted that they were gone and that as they were only a $10 pair of sunnies that my brother had bought from a petrol station once and given to me when I needed a pair, I should just let it go.

I didn’t let it go.

The last place I remembered having them was in my friend’s car on the way out for dinner and a movie with mates.

I definitely had them in the car on the way there.

I didn’t remember having them on the way home and didn’t have them after that.


This meant I’d either left them at the restaurant or I’d dropped them in the cinema.

If I’d left them in the restaurant they might still be around but by now it’s Monday night and there’s a chance they might have been tossed or mislaid or accidentally tidied away.

If I’d left them in the cinema they were almost certainly gone.
Either kicked under a seat, trodden on, thrown out, picked up.
Much less of a likelihood that they would have ended up in a lost property box.

So, fingers crossed, I called up the restaurant.

They were there.

They had my sunnies.

The girl who answered the phone just happened to be the girl who had served us that night.


Of course… The thing about this restaurant is that it is an hour away from my flat…

What a sane person would do – especially a sane person who is soon going to buy a higher quality pair of sunglasses for her trip to Nepal – would be forget the sunglasses.
Tell the nice lady on the phone that it was OK to either keep them or toss them, whatever she felt like.

That’s what a sane person would do.

Guuuuuuueeeeeeeeeeeeess who just took a two hour round trip to pick up her sunglasses!?

Guuuuuuueeeeeeeeeeeeess who is super stoked about having her sunglasses back!?

Everything is right with the world again!

Really, I’m very very easily pleased.

The other amusing thing is that when bereft of sunglasses, my mother loaned me a pair that she assumed my sister had left at the family home.

I asked my sister about them.
Not hers.

I asked my brother’s girlfriend.
Not hers.

I cannot think of anybody else who has stopped by recently who could have left them here.

Mystery bonus sunglasses.

It’d be nice if they had a button or switch on them that give them infrared or x-ray filters but I expect they just keep the sun out of your eyes which is a handy feature that the human eye doesn’t offer as standard.