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"My invisible best friend" - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
"My invisible best friend"
The title of the post ("My invisible best friend") was the title of a panel at arisia that I wish I'd been there for all of--it was talking about this phenomenon we're all familiar with here, of making friends with people we've never seen and probably never will see. (Though I have made one great RL friend online.)

I'm reading a book at present on The Psychology of the Internet (Patricia Wallace), and it takes a fairly serious look at the way people interact online, the way the concept of "proximity" works in a world where we're physically disparate. Generally, Wallace contends that when you run into the same person in a few different venues, that person takes on the same kind of familiarity you might get in the real world with a neighbor you see regularly, even if you don't know the person well. Those are then the people that feel "right," and who you try to get to know better. I'd happily testify to that in any court. There are some people I "see" repeatedly, and I always smile when I catch a post.

I'm fascinated by the memes that proliferate here on LJ (and will create one later in this post), because they have such a comparative, getting-to-know-you feel--are you like me? Not like me? In what way? I hope someone does a study on them soon; it would make really interesting reading. (Any research psychologists out there?)

The book also talks about the tendency for groups to polarize (the "drama" of a previous post), and for a certain lack of inhibition to develop, not always to the benefit of conversations--people really do tend to be more aggressive online. Of course, I've long held that a little aggressiveness can be a very good thing, and that if it's true that playing war games increases aggressiveness, then maybe it would be a good idea to get some timid kids who need self-confidence to play them. In other words, bring it on. Being Fern online--a somewhat aggressive persona, at least in terms of "colonizing" various message boards or the LJ or whatnot--has done wonders for my social confidence offline, though I'm still not what you'd call a social butterfly. I usually assume that people want to hear what I have to say, though, and that's a big improvement.

At any rate, it's quite a good book, and I recommend it if you can get your hands on it.

In the spirit of my invisible friends, I thought it might be fun to make up a meme. Maybe I'm weird, but I somehow don't think so--when I read enough posts by someone, I start to imagine a face for the person, and a setting. So, here's the meme:

Take ten people from your friends list who you don't know in RL (and haven't seen a lot of pictures of), including the person you're snagging from, and describe the person as you see him or her in your mind.
(Obviously, I'm not snagging from anyone.)

ashtur, I see as light-haired, with sort of sharp features. He always looks vaguely like he's daydreaming. For some reason, I also picture him with a penchant for loud shirts. The computer is in a light-ish room and there are a lot of papers around it, as well as a bookshelf nearby. And one of those swinging lamps you can clip on to a bookshelf.
mafdet is a dead ringer for a friend of mine from high school. I don't know why this is so, as their personalities aren't remotely similar (judging from posts, of course), but chrysantza got Aileen's face anyway. Thick dark hair, very dark deepset eyes. She's in blue jeans and a light top, usually with a denim jacket, and she's typing on a laptop in a kitchen, occasionally looking up over the screen to talk to someone else.
jiminyc is a cheerful woman with short blonde hair (just below her ears, usually worn with a headband). She wears nice slacks and tailored shirts of some sort, and her computer is in a "public" part of her house. I see her kids coming in and out of the picture as she types. A dining room, maybe.
ladyaeryn--one of the few people I "see" regularly who never has had a locked-in face for me. At present, she's a strawberry blonde, in blue jeans and a T-shirt. She has a normal mess of a teenager's room, which is where her computer is, with books piled around it and posters on the walls. In the past, she's been a Chinese girl with glasses, who wears her hair in a long braid, and a short-haired brunette in jeans and a sweatshirt.
minoukatze could be mafdet's sister--a similar coloring, but less deepset eyes and curlier hair. Probably because of talks on fanweight, I picture minoukatze most often with the aerobic step, stepping away, dashing back and forth to the computer to make posts (typing standing up sometimes), then drifting over to the easel which stands off to the side. There's a paint-splattered dropcloth at the base.
persephone_kore... it's the Greek-ish name. Brings statues to mind, and I can't get rid of them. :) She's tall and pale, with curly dark hair piled up in an impossibly complex updo, possibly with little bits of jewelry braided into it. She's in a well-lit room, a den maybe, with wicker shelves nearby, and quite a few houseplants.
pottersues is a sophisticated blonde, with her hair back in a French twist (though she's wearing blue jeans and one of the Sue Store babydoll shirts). She keeps a sardonic eyebrow raised at the world. Her workstation, on the other hand, is distinctly unglamorous. I see her in an office with flourescent lighting and pale green walls. No idea why.
sue_parsons is a tall woman with wavy, shoulder-length light brown hair and hazel eyes. She wears jeans and t-shirts, but the jeans are crisp and the t-shirts tucked in. Her computer area has a lot of papers around it, but they're mostly things she's working on, and she can get to what she needs easily.
sunshyndaisies has waist length light brown hair that isn't quite bent enough to be called wavy, but does tend to curl at the ends when it's humid. She wears cut off jeans and big t-shirts and--bizarrely--she is almost always in her car, typing on a laptop that sits in the passenger seat and is plugged into the cigarette lighter. There's just no accounting for that.
themorningstarr looks like a more relaxed version of pottersues. She's a blonde with thick, curly hair, who tends to be very relaxed in her dress. The computer is in a cheerful kitchen on a wooden table.
2 comments or Leave a comment
thewhiteowl From: thewhiteowl Date: February 18th, 2004 06:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oooh! I had that idea for a meme a few months back, but I never got around to starting it. Are you sure you aren't me? ;-P
jiminyc From: jiminyc Date: February 19th, 2004 04:19 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, you get points for pegging me as cheerful (I always try!) and having a computer in a 'public' place in the house. (It's on one wall of the big family room and yes, kids come in & out while I'm here at the computer.) I like your mental image of me - it sounds like my best pal co-worker and I think she's lovely. So feel free to keep that image of me if you like or read on if you want the real deal:

My hair is just past shoulder length, 85% black, 15% silvery gray and held back from my face with silver barrettes most of the time. My nearly constant mode of dress is blue jeans & t-shirts (or sweatshirts when it's cold).
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