Whenever I go home, I try to meet as many people as I can, apart from relatives and old friends. I’m talking about online friends here. The internet has become the most effective “social event” for someone to meet new people, especially for those who don’t socialize much in real life, like moi.
Mom still can’t get used to the fact that I know so many people so well without actually “knowing them”. She doesn’t understand this whole “online socializing” trend due to her generation. (*My folks are the types who have to know my friend's background. Extremely irritating but that's just how they are.) A typical evening conversation at home usually goes like this…
“Mom, don’t make dinner for me. A friend invited me over for dinner.”
“I am not sure… I’ll ask him as I leave…”
“You don’t KNOW his locality??? Who are his parents?”
“I don’t know…”
“You idiot… And what’s his name?”
“I don’t know…”
“What??? How long have you known him!!!???”
“For around 5 years now!”
“You see, I know him by his online nick only, and I call him just by that name. I know his profession, I know what kinda music he likes, I know his birth-date, I know which political party he supports, I know the names of his ex-girlfriends and the exact dates they dumped him, I know whether he drinks or not and whether he supports the Total Prohibition Act or not, I know the level of his spirituality when it comes to religion, I know the websites and chat channels he regularly haunts, I even know the license plate number of his bike. But for the love of God, please don’t ask me his name because I… DON’T… KNOW!”
lolz, online life! No wonder some of the older folks in our society can never understand this, because to them, socializing starts from meeting that person in person, followed by names, to folk’s names, locality etc and from there they move to other personal details like the ones mentioned above. In the online world, things are quite the opposite! hehe.
And the funny thing about online friends is that, if we haven’t met him/her before and yet know that person so well online, then we usually start assuming that he or she is something he/she actually isn’t in real life! We picture that person in our head, solely based on the way he or she writes. And of course the shock we get when we finally get to meet that person, sometimes is quite disappointing, but most of the time it is funny.
Those who haven’t met me or spoken to me on the phone before, mostly assume I have this deep, masculine, baritone-like voice of James Coburn or Sean Connery. Lolz. I am flattered but noooooo… I have the voice of an 8 year old boy. And yeah, thank you all for sooo sensitively saying it right up to my face, “Whoah! Your voice isn’t something I was expecting at all!!! I imagined it to be a lot deeper, huskier, more masculine etc etc.” Yes, it doesn’t hurt me AT ALL. *sarcasm*
Some even go an extra mile over the phone, “Hi.. oh you must be Kima’s sister. Can I please speak to Kima?”
Why don’t I have a deep masculine voice? Probably because I use words like “ouch” in my blog.
But seriously, I don’t know why my voice is not deep. You can ask my genealogist. And, errr... mind you, that is genealogist, NOT gynaecologist.
My friends told me they assumed my voice would be a lot more masculine because I write a lot about social issues, football analysis and other sports, Heavy metal and Gothic music, and occasionally about male stereotypes and humorous sexist articles. I write about discs, pubs and parties because I love living my life in the fast lane. Hence I guess all that probably stereotyped me as the alpha-male, which is so not true in reality. I even met online friends who thought I would this short, portly, loud-mouthed, big-headed nerd who talks non-stop and argues with everybody in the room.
In real life, yes I have an abnormally large head (after all, I am a Mizo ) but I am NOT short (at least for a Mizo), extremely shy and introvertish, hardly talks, eccentric to some degree, with the voice of an 8 year old cherub. There you go. That is me. Though it is quite an honor for somebody to picture me as something so… macho, I just don’t want to burst your bubble.
And I guess that is what online life is all about. Either we become a different person from our real life avatar (role playing) or we assume others to be somebody they are not. There is still no substitute for a personal one-to-one physical contact, but online socializing comes pretty close.
Role playing is fun, but I think that should be restricted to MMORPGs like Tribal Wars, Travian, Ikariam, Neopets etc. Such games demand that you have an alter-ego online, and that you should talk and act just like that online avatar. But when you are socializing, say at blogs or social network sites, things will work out best for you and your friend if you don’t put on a façade. Likewise, here is me warning all my wonderful friends out there – Chances of your online friend turning out to be exactly like the person you have pictured in your head is extremely slim. That’s Life. The Online life.