AI: You mean there’s life *outside* the internet?

AI: You mean there’s life *outside* the internet?

If you’re reading this, you’re probably online (our carrier pigeon subscription service not being quite ready yet). If you’re like me, you spend a great deal of time online, including a substantial proportion of your social life. Being online is great for someone like me that finds face-to-face interaction quite difficult, and also has strong interests that aren’t so well represented in my immediate area. The asexual community is largely online too, which is probably why it’s disproportionately young as a group. It’s great to find people with whom you have stuff in common online; however, face-to-face interactions can do even more to help people feel less alone.
 
Earlier this week I had an opportunity to go to a real life ase gathering nearby, though in the end couldn’t because of other commitments, but I really would like to catch the next one. I’ve also recently gone from interacting with our university feminist group via Facebook to attending meetings, plus have met other people I’ve only emailed previously. However brilliant the internet is, actually meeting people with whom you have something in common is pretty valuable, particularly when that something can be isolating. Of course there are issues with things like safety (not to mention reaching out to people who aren’t especially close to major cities), but overall there’s still plenty of space for interactions outside the interwebs.
 
Have you ever been to a real-life gathering of people you met on the internet, or a gathering that was organised online? What was it like? What was the common interest that brought you all together, if there was one?
 
The Afternoon Inqueery (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Queereka community. Look for it to appear on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, at 3pm ET.
 
(Featured image by Sean Duncan on Flickr.)

Courtney is a theoretical physics student at Imperial College London, broadly identifying as cisfemale, panromantic, asexual and atheist. She lives with mental illness (worst room-mate ever) and hopes to help break down the stigma attached to admitting that. Her hobbies include campaigning, internetting and spectacularly failing to defy any stereotypes regarding British people and tea. She also identifies as an X-Phile/Browncoat/Whovian, which are clearly the most important things.

2 Comments

  1. I’ve done it many times, on varying scales, because a significant amount (half or more) of my social life has been online since about my second year of undergrad when I discovered hardcore World of Warcraft (six years ago). All of my gatherings have been gaming-oriented – WoW, Bioware RPGs.

    They’ve been good experiences all around – I met my best friend in the world first online, and many others – though there’s been one particular oddness common to most of them. I’ve often found it difficult to gauge how familiar to be when meeting someone who’s become a good friend for the first time in meatspace. Since I’ve never seen them before, I’m inclined to be a bit formal, but that feels wrong because we already know each other so well. It’s an awkwardness that’s laughed over and quickly forgotten.

  2. Met my husband in 1988. I lived in Alaska, he lived on Long Island. We met online (via Q-Link which eventually became AOL, but this was 1988, it was for Commodore 64 owners). We got romantically interested, and he moved in with me in Dec. 1988. We’ve been together ever since.

    I organized a cook-in at my house back in 2002 where a bunch of people from a cooking usenet newsgroup came to my place and stayed the weekend and we cooked and ate and had a good time.

    I’ve gone to a meet up of people from a MUD I was on around 1997. That was uncomfortable because I was the oldest person there. But it was OK. Interesting.

    Went to a “god meet” for another MUD where I was a goddess. This involved flying to DC and spending a weekend with the other gods in a rented town house. It was fun, lots of chatter and talking about the game. I’m glad I did that, though now I probably wouldn’t bother. Not still a goddess there because of the idiot producer who ran the MUD running me off (it’s complicated).

    I’ve been participating on an email group since 1993, and I’ve met several of the folks who have been on the group as long. We’re all pretty close in a lot of ways. I’ve had one of them stay at my house for a weekend. Other’s I’ve met while I was traveling places. I’ve stayed at another’s house, too.

    Online is an extension of meatspace for us.

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