Sunday, February 6, 2011

Visual Realities

This may be a first (?), two Vision & Verb collaborators meeting each other in real life.  Not Kath and Margie, of course, because they're sisters and that doesn't count!

We're both here in this image, in case you wondered.  She, Petra, is reflecting on her own photography and I'm there in the background, reflecting on her.

Isn't this fun!  Petra told us about her photography exhibition near her hometown here in Holland, about 35 km. from where we live.  We have wanted to meet each other since forever, so why not now.  Just do it.  Besides, Astrid and I knew we could make a
photo-hunt day of it, which we did a week ago Saturday.  It was cold but sunny.

That same evening, once we got home, we sat in our nearby movie theater (something we do maybe 4 times a year) and watched teenagers and young adults playing with their iPhones before the movie started...gaming and texting.  Couldn't help but comment about the different world our kids live in today, much of which is virtual.  My 10-year-old grandson would much rather play with his hand-held virtual toys than ride a bike, for God's sake!

But here's the thing.  Remember when we used to write long, snail-mail letters and had to wait days before getting a response?  How many of us do that anymore!  When Dad was dying in 1995, we 8 kids around the state/country did most of our communicating via the phone.  Two years later, when Mom was dying, we were all using the internet, keeping up via e-mail several times a day.  Today we also IM each other and Skype.  All forms of virtual reality.

How many times have we said in Blogosphere that our virtual friends...the ones we've never met in real life...are every bit as real to us, if not more so, than our families and friends.  We may even feel more understood and loved by the point that we we choose them to be our 'real' family.  After all, they know only the bits we want them to know...and are therefore more forgiving.

In my 6 years of blogging on 3 different blogs, including this one, I have met in real life close to 50 bloggers, not counting family and friends.  A handful of them I never see or hear from anymore, and to be honest, a couple of them were not anything like I had created them to be in my mind.  Most of you know that Astrid is my wife today because I first met her on my photoblog.  After 3 months of daily e-mail contact, I met her in real life.  Would she be anything like what I thought she would be?  OMG!  The minute I stepped off the train that first day, it was like lightning struck.  The virtual reality we both had created was in fact...real.

Which leads to this question:  how do we view reality these days?  Apart from the creepy, scary internet stories we dread and the paranoia we might have about divulging our identity, do we gain more than we lose by our blogging realities?  Do you want to meet your blogging family in real life, or does it scare you? Do you trust your judgment of people enough to want to meet them?  I'm guessing we'd all say a hearty YES.  So we're downright lucky when it happens.

In two months Astrid and I will fly to Oslo to meet two of my longest blogger friends, along with their wives.  With Petra, that will make 3 virtual friends this year already, and counting.  Maybe you'll be next.  Isn't that fun!  I love it. 

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