I am currently watching one of my favourite romantic comedies: You've Got Mail. I utterly love it. Its hilarious one moment then moving the next, just as any good romantic comedy should be. There are also no wedged in sex scenes, which I deplore in any film. It has a wonderful soundtrack, something that can make a good film great and, in this case, a great film fantastic. I find myself singing along to The Cranberries and getting up to have a little dance to Rockin' Robin.
Its this very idea of anonymity, which can appear so scary, that can also be the beauty of online communication. I may not put personal details on my blog but I do feel free to write anything I want. Years ago, I had an online friend who I only knew through talking on some social networking site and MSN. She did not know me and I did not know her. We did not plan to meet and I think we both knew that this friendship could only be so deep when we'd never met in person. There is something about physical contact, even if it is just a handshake, that makes someone seem much closer. We need that, as human beings. I like blogging, I like twittering and chatting to people I don't know. It's interesting and enjoyable. But I know that if I didn't get a kiss from the Other Half or a hug from a friend, online communication would not fill that need. This online friend and I eventually openly admitted that the best thing about this friendship was that we could tell each other about all our problems and admit all of our faults because we had the privacy of anonymity. It was practically therapy. I would tell her about things that I couldn't tell anyone else and expect nothing more than sympathy and maybe advice. She couldn't interfere in my life. She couldn't gossip about me, expect maybe to people I didn't know and how could that possibly matter? And she did the same.
I think my favourite thing about blogging, other than having an excuse to write whenever I feel the urge to, is the wider perspective that blogging communities give. I read blogs from people that I would, in all probability, never meet out in the real world. Perhaps not during my lifetime, but there was a time when people only knew those who they lived close to or went to school with or worked with. That could be quite a large number of people but nothing like the number of people we can now potentially talk to, grow close to, even fall in love with.
I've never had an online romantic relationship. I've also never personally met anyone whose online relationship has led to marriage and babies. But they do exist. I can see the appeal. In reality, I am shy and self concious. Online, I am not. Nobody can tell if I'm embarrassed or nervous. It doesn't matter if I haven't straightened my hair or put on my best clothes. I suppose I'm lucky that the Other Half was previously my best friend before we started dating. He'd seen me blush a million times (I do so at the mere idea of being embarrassed), he knew I'm nervous around strangers and in strange situations and he'd seen me on days when I simply hadn't put the effort into my appearance.
As I type this, Meg Ryan is almost crying as she has just discovered that Tom Hanks is actually this amazing man that she has been chatting to online. Somewhere over the Rainbow is playing as they embrace and, of course, live happily ever after.
I feel like I should end this post responsibly. Please don't meet up with anyone from the internet on your own. Don't hand out personal details. Don't assume anyone is who they say they are. Sorry to end on a downer but the unfortunate reality is, these things must be considered.