In a tweet last night I used the word "trufax" and was pleasantly surprised to get a response of "trubba not" from a fellow tweeter, someone I know only from the internet, but who has proved to have a wealth of overlapping interests with me, including studying hagiography in grad school. When you find someone who also loves a book you adore, you've found another member of your tribe.
For me, that's the internet.
My online information is filled with little details and inside jokes that will mean a lot to a very few people, but when people respond, I know I've found another member of my tribe. Well, one of my tribes anyway: there are so many! Some overlap, some don't. The only point of meeting may be me, but I'm surrounded by a network of people who like the stuff I do and share sensibilities I have. It's wonderful.
I have friends around the world that I would never have met but for the internet. Yes, some of them I have since met face to face. Some of them I might never meet, but my life is richer for their friendship. Distance used to keep people from meeting who might correspond over the years, letters slowly reaching across the globe, though they never clapped eyes on one another. It's a wonderful treasure to be able to communicate instantaneously with a friend on the opposite side of the globe.
This is, of course, to counter the picture of the internet simply as the domain of child-molesters, scam artists, tax-evaders, trolls and the disgruntled. Old media has a tendency to play up that aspect, unfortunately.
As usual, I'm thinking about these issues because I'm going to be teaching a grad class about Literature/Performance/Visual Narrative. One of the themes linking it will be how we use the 'net to create narratives of ourselves using visual, aural and verbal techniques. Also as usual, I'm not entirely certain how it will work -- it's an experiment. The class has a Facebook page, they will have to write a Twitter length narrative (140 characters), do some kind of performance, and write a biography of someone's online "performance" of their own life. I have no idea what we'll discover, but I'm looking forward to it.