Last night, I attended a happy hour for some folks that have all met in the commenting section of a local blog. Their common thread is weather, and boy do they know about meteorology. Their online conversations center around upcoming weather events, storm models, and other tools to predict the weather.
This scientific social circle is my husband’s, but I went along to see these people he’s chosen to spend time with online each day. I’ve never done online dating, nor am I active in any real online community. I was really interested to see how the world of online friendships would translate to a real flesh and bone encounter.
Each participant wore a name tag with their screen name. Though it was dark in the bar and difficult to read the tags at first glance, there were cries of recognition all around as people identified their online friends. A man with whom my husband gets into frequent yet cordial debates on the subject of global warming greeted Walter with a hug. Some chatted about the weather, others made the kind of small talk you might make with someone you just met. All were very welcoming to me and a friend I had brought along – an observer on the blog as well as an observer at the evening event. Married to the only snow sculptor in the group, people found lots to chat with me about. My friend, a school teacher, was able to talk about how the weather, or more specifically weather-related closures, impact her life.
We gave a ride home to lady named Sandy who told us that her husband had passed away four years ago and that this was the first social connection she had truly made on her own. And all the while, my husband, perhaps not quite able to bridge this virtual to physical bridge, continued to call her Scrabble Girl, her screen name. I was sure glad to be able to witness the connections. I wonder if the dynamics will change now that people have faces to put with those screen names?