6th: Sleep not when other speak, sit not when others stand, speak not when you should hold your peace, walk not on when others stop.
LOST IMAGINARY FRIENDS
29 August 2004
A few weeks back, I wrote an entry on Imaginary Friends which talked about the friends one makes over the years of being on line and which talked about the various people I have met since I first ventured out onto the internet, like Bambi's mother walking cautiously onto the meadow. I talked about the special relationships that develop and how important people become to our lives, whether we meet in person or not.
The friendships become so important that when the venue which provided the "meeting place" disappears, we scramble around to find another way to stay in touch.
Years ago, the gay/lesbian discussion group became unhappy with the policies on CompuServe, but we'd all been together so long that it was necessary to set up a new "place" to meet and my friends Bill and Mike started a Yahoo Group, which has been going for several years.
Recently, changes in CompuServe made it very unpleasant to continue discussions there and so the Women's Issues group, which had been together about 10 years, also moved to a yahoo group which, while not quite as easy to follow as it had been on the old CompuServe, at least allows us to remain in contact with one another.
The problem with Imaginary Friends is when they disappear without warning. I think about Bob Mitchell (whose wife invented the term "imaginary friends"), whom I knew quite well on CompuServe, who seems to have vanished. Nobody has heard from him and his old e-mail address doesn't work.
I think about Bill Walsh, who was a face-to-face friend who became an e-mail friend and then just disappeared, his e-mail address being returned as account closed. No way to contact him. No way to find out if he's alive or dead.
I recently received a note from the administrator of another list I'm on, asking for "emergency contact numbers." She was concerned that if somebody just disappeared for an extended period of time, the group would have no way of knowing if something tragic had happened. It's a large group and when someone's mailbox fills up, meaning she is no longer picking up e-mail, if this is someone you have cared about for years, you want to know how to find out what's going on. I'm grateful that this administrator has thought to plan ahead and have a contingency plan in case of emergencies.
I actually thought about that several months ago and typed up a "people to be contacted if something happens to me" list, which gives the e-mail addresses and, where possible, the telephone numbers of people who are representatives of groups I've participated in for a long time, who my family would never know to contact, should something happen to me.
I'm thinking about this a lot these days because Marn has disappeared. Anyone who has read this journal for any length of time know that I refer to Marn quite frequently. She's one of the most fun journal writers I know. I've been entertained and inspired by her for years, but I've never known her real address or any contact information for her other than her e-mail address.
Her last entry, August 12, reported on a phone call she'd received from her doctor telling her that they'd discovered a skin cancer and that she would be "operated on as soon as possible." As someone who has experienced sudden loss and things that can go horribly wrong during routine surgical procedures, I've been waiting to hear about whether they scheduled the surgery and if all went well.
One thing we don't think about, we journalists who have unseen readers, is that people get into the habit of seeing something from us on a daily/regular basis. We become terribly concerned when we know someone we care about is facing something like this and we have no way of checking to see how things are going.
The smart ones have people who can write entries for them, giving people an update so they don't worry, or so they can worry, or send flowers or something. (That's an easy thing to do if you use an easy journaling site like Diaryland or OpenDiary, but if you're like me who does everything in HTML, it's not possible to have someone write a progress report and post it for you....the best I can do is hope that Walt would post a note in my guestbook, should something happen to me).
So I'm worried about Marn and have no way of finding out how she is, other than continuing to check her journal every day.
I worried about SecraTerri for a long time too, when she disappeared, but she, at least, has returned long enough to let people know what is happening in her life. My friend Bitter Hag also disappeared from the journaling scene in December without a word and I have received worried notes from people wanting to know if I know how she is. Fortunately, she at least writes e-mail and so I know she is well and happy and just too busy for the likes of journal entries.
But it's very frustrating when people go AWOL without so much as a goodbye note. That is very definitely the down side of Imaginary Friendships.
Today's Web Site
Please bend, fold, spindle, and mutilate. This site has some amazing origami.