I blame Shooshie.
When FaceBook first became the BIG thing, Shoosh recommended I get on the train.
“You can keep up with your friends more easily”.
“Maybe you’ll find old friends you haven’t heard from since school.”
“You can share goofy stuff like pictures and funnies.”
“You can have a farm.”
A farm, you say?
And so I got into FB for a farm.
Sure, sure, it was nice to communicate more easily with friends, but we had email for that. Friends from school didn’t interest me. Anyone I hadn’t taken the time and energy to stay in touch with over the 25 years since graduating was not on my Christmas card list, anyway. Goofy stuff is always fun, but again: email.
But a farm? Like with trees and flowers and… did you say PINK cows?
After losing a few crops of strawberries, I realised wheat was where it was at.
A bunch of my friends were also playing, so I received plenty of chickens, and soon had enough to fill a coop! My apple orchard quickly grew into a forest. When my pink cottage arrived, I surrounded it with apple trees just like one of my favourite childhood books, The Little House. (Still have it!)
When I needed more neighbours to get the bigger farm, and still didn’t have enough FB friends, I made another account. And another… At one time, I had 6 FB accounts. Well, not quite true. I had 5. The 6th one was my cat’s.
I was not the only one to feel the need for agricultural expansion, however, and soon all of us neighboured up with friends of friends, and pets of friends, and started expanding and sending daily gifts and building supplies.
An interesting thing came out of that. Some of us remain FB friends even though we/they don’t play FarmVille (or FishVille, PetVille, Treasure Island… oh yeh, I got roped into them all) anymore.
Causes and local business and our own artistic and business ventures are shared farther and wider, now. There are a few extra congratulations and Merry Christmases to share, as well as words of condolence and consolation. FB friends are different than real life friends, sure; they are more like the old-fashioned pen-pal. If “Angie” planned a trip west from the east coast, I would make time for lunch if she asked, and I would offer anyway.
I guess what I’m trying to say is how strange it can be the way we end up meeting people who become friends. In the old days, pen-pals and postal correspondence were what we had, and it was a great way to learn about places and cultures. I have a number of people met on the Internet who are real friends since as long past as 15 years ago. “Real friends” in that we correspond regularly, send gifts across the miles, share our feelings and secrets, and visit each other when in town. Some of them I have met in real life, including my dear friends in Scotland. I met my fiance’ The Brit playing World of Warcraft, he in Texas and me in Florida.
Long distance romances are really not so strange. Internet romance is not so different from the days when a lady and her suitor would correspond through long letters that would take days, or even weeks to arrive through friends, family, confidantes, traveling merchants, and eventually the postal service.
Outpourings of love, promises, and vows were limited to written words. The fragile ink on paper, so easily lost, so easily destroyed…. Yet the source was the same: the heart. No physical distractions, only words.
I think that when all you have are words it can be easy to become lost in the limited-ness of them and, thus, romanticise the connection between ourselves overmuch. Equally, I think that when all you have is words, you get to know a person more deeply, more intimately, more truly, perhaps, because a person willing to go through all of the trouble of this more labourious method of conducting a relationship with no easy possibility of a physical encounter may really mean what he/she says. You can get to the inside of the person before you see the outside. And anyone who can keep up the persona for a year or more must be being honest. With online games you get to know a person by seeing their interaction with others, too.
It came to a point where we made plans to be on to play at certain times. Even though you could have set your watch by what time I logged in every night, he still asked if 7pm would be OK. Some nights the whole guild would have logged off and we wouldn’t even notice that we were the only ones there and it was 4am.
Eventually, there were nights we were logged into the game, but chatting on MSN, or watching Doctor Who videos on YouTube. Two years later, he came to visit me in Florida- twice in 3 months. I went to visit him in Texas a few months later.
Work kept interrupting our trips, and 2 days after I got home from Texas, he asked me to move in with him. Ten months later he asked me to move to California with him.
I guess I can blame this on Shoosh, too. She was the one who invited me to play WoW with the guild.
So this post started off as being about FarmVille and how, after not tending my massive farm (which is really more of a town) for a year, I’ve gone back to fiddling with it a bit this past week. However, it seems to have ended up more about relationships over distances and the fact that, just because a person is a FaceBook friend, doesn’t diminish the fact that they are a friend, and you just never know who you may meet across the vast expanses of cyber space. Blogs included.