Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Friends, Nephews, And Sons


When I first started blogging I didn't think I would make any real friends by doing it. I have always found it hard to meet new people and I didn't expect anything different online.

Blogging allows us to communicate with strangers in an intimate way and introduces us to them. I found myself responding to comments in my blog and commenting in other people's blogs. I started to get to know people.

When I began working with people in group blogs we communicated by email and instant messaging. I discovered that I had made some new friends.


I was quite excited about the projects I was working on and mentioned them to people I knew offline. Their responses were positive for the most part but I did get some strange comments. One fellow said something like: "I thought only weirdos talked to strange kids on the 'net". I was angry and I nearly swore at the guy. That's when I got the idea to become Uncle Firemind.

Nobody asked any weird questions when I said I was chatting with my nephews or blogging with them. I got so used to this that sometimes I would slip up around relatives and have to explain things.

Saying people were my nephews and nieces started as a convenient way to deflect misunderstandings. It became a fun way to recognize my bonds with friends. I didn't hear from my real relatives but I got to play uncle online.


Things began to change earlier this year and many of my "nephews" quit blogging. I was also going through a period of soul searching. I began to feel lonely and blogged about wanting a son. Strangely enough that blog post brought me an honorary one.

Calling Shogun my son has been fun at times. I would get some odd comments from friends and associates. One of my friends had trouble with the idea. He just couldn't picture me as a father.

Some of the funniest situations arose when I talked to my mother. I remember saying: "hey, you're a grandma again", and pausing dramatically before adding: " but you don't have to diaper this one: he's sixteen". I then told my mom all about it.

I remember another funny incident that occurred when I was chatting with Shogun. I said I was going to phone my mom and he said: "say hi to Granny for me." I laughed and said exactly that.
Playing at father and son was fun. It was a way to recognize our friendship. We didn't take the words as serious as the bond they represented.


Calling online friends nephews and sons has been a mixed blessing in a way. A good thing is that it made me feel more connected to people. These weren't the usual "friends" that were important one day and forgotten the next. I had walked away from friendships that didn't seem to be working and yet had put up with family I didn't get along with. I guess I was tired of people disappearing from my life.

The bad side of this is that it made the relationships too important to me. I spent too much time trying to make them work. I am, after all, just someone these people know online. I don't say this to lessen my friendships but to put things in perspective. I finally had to say that to myself even though it makes me bitter.

Like all friendships my online ones will evolve. I can't use fancy words to try to hold on to them. I can appreciate the friends I have and cherish the time I spend with them.

No comments: