Most of the conversations I have every day are typed, not spoken. I haven’t seen the people I type with in years, if ever. We build and maintain our friendships in the same way as people always have, through mutual respect, conversations and enjoyment. We just type those conversations. I can make factually correct, relevant points because I can post in minutes or hours, with the time to fact check whatever I care. In person, I am on my own. Online, I am supported.
Those who knew me in elementary school know that I was not agreeable, popular or even a coherent lad. I have perhaps a dozen middle aged friends who knew me as the unpopular, but smart kid at Mary Lin Elementary. Not good at fighting, but always getting into fights. I knew from age seven that words quickly translated to fights. I learned words to avoid fights, but mostly I stayed out of the the really interesting conversations. I went from shy to shyer.
I have a dozen more online friends who knew me as a middle schooler at Inman Middle School. By then, I was asserting my inner geek, but not enough to really learn Basic programming or think Doctor Who had a deep meaning. My interests were to the left of fandom; in environmentalism and petit Luddism. Environmentalism was the perfect metaphor for my dread of the future, and I studied them as a priori truths.
I have dozens of online friends who knew me in high school. By then, I had cut out of the bad relationships and heartache of the public school system and was going to a private school in Atlanta. I was getting daffy. Perfect hot roll of teen angst, environmentalism and wit.
The conversations that I have now are augmented in time and content. I would often say the perfectly wrong thing as often as the mundane or insightful thing. But online, I can type the right and engaging thing more often than the wrong thing. Timing doesn’t matter, and everything can be checked before replying.