Gone Is The Internet Age of The Pen-Pal.

I had someone contact me out of the blue recently (see comments on previous post) and thought it quite amazing. Especially since I don’t appear to get much traffic on my blog (not that I’m looking, it can be great to know you are almost totally anonymous with this thing, but feel there is SOMEONE listening). It made me reminisce for the lost art of the Internet pen-pal. 

In the heady, early days of the Internet (invented many moons ago, but saw me on in 1997), there was no Facebook or My(gay)space. The people you met on the Internet tended to be people you didn’t know. I was the only person in my family to be on the Internet for about 2-3 years. And I was still living in Oz at the time, so there was no need to “keep up-to-date” with my family online. The people I met in these early days were all strangers, including Em. Back then, you seem to go on the Internet to meet new people. Have a new way of making pen-pals that didn’t involve putting a little spiel in a magazine and hope that 2 months later you’d get some response. People put their email addresses on pen-pal sites and met that way.

Nowadays, it seems you need to know all the people on the Internet first. Like with social networking. OK, you can poke someone randomly, and they may add you to their friend list, but it never steps beyond that. The only real interaction you have with people on Facebook or Gayspace (in my experience) is with people you ALREADY know. Friends and relatives. That’s great if you live vast distances from them (great for me, I live in the UK, my family are in Australia), but it wasn’t the initial intent I had for my use of the Internet nearly 11 years ago now. Of course I want to keep in touch with my family. That’s not what I’m implying. I just wish I could continue to meet new people as well.

I wanted it to meet NEW people. To get to know people from all round the world. I met one fantastic person as a result (Em) and we are still together all these years on. I made some other pen-pals as well, but you just end up losing contact with these people. I always feel my life is not anything particularly special, so I find it hard to keep pen-pals. I never know what to write and think people will get bored with me, so after a while I just never bother to reply. Or I just lose track of people. I’ve had a pen-pal for about 10 years now. He lives in another part of the UK. He emailed me around Xmas time. I said in an email that I’d respond to his email to me in more detail once Xmas was dealt with. Well, it’s now May, and I never did send that “more informative” email.

But I digress. The short end of the story is, I got my hopes up with this person. I was dubious at first that the post was just a ploy to promote their own blog, but considering the amount of traffic I get for my blog, that seemed HIGHLY unlikely. This person seemed really nice and genuine, and so I replied in the hope that we’d establish a rapport, get to know each other, and become pen-pals (or e-pals). I was SSSOOO looking forward to establishing a friendship. But lo and behold, nothing happened. Perhaps my email went to her spam box? Perhaps she’s even more like me than I imagined, and just can’t be arsed to reply? Perhaps I am INDEED so boring that she gave up after 1 email? I mean, if I can’t even get my partner to tear herself away from a computer screen to spend some time with me, what hope do I have?

So, perhaps I’ll just continue to use my blog, like I did my diaries when I was a teenager. An invisible friend. Someone (something) to air my feelings to. I just wish I had that return banter sometimes…