Jul 15, 2009

On Meeting Virtual Friends in the Real World

I had the opportunity to meet a group of local bloggers who get together from time to time at a local pub. I have "known" these people several years in a virtual sense from local discussion boards and through emails, yet this is the first time I met in person the likes of local blogosphere denizens MadJack, kateb, and Guest Zero.

Certainly the physical characteristics of each person might have differed from mental images that I might have conjured up, but what was more surprising to me was hearing the voices of people who I previously only knew through words on websites. Guest Zero, for example, sometimes uses boldfaced font in his writing to emphasize a point, yet he was almost soft-spoken in vocal tone.

It was also interesting to hear the real-life stories of people who operate online with pseudonyms for personal protection (they are quite wise for doing so, by the way, unlike the rather reckless and out-in-the-open narrator of this blog). Hearing life experiences helped me place into context the particular political and cultural views each person holds, and people are much more willing to share personal information in the safer environment of face-to-face conversation.

We yakked, ate, and chatted for a few hours; no world problems were solved, but no punches were thrown, and I mostly listened and learned different sides of people I knew only from what they choose to share in public. All of these people, of course, emerged as more "real" than their online personalities, but this is to be expected: a software platform cannot begin to duplicate a human being.

Perhaps that is the most important lesson of the evening.


-Sepp said...

Pretty cool wasn't it HM? I too have met a few fellow posters and bloggers and found it sometimes funny when they actually DID match the mental picture I had!

SensorG said...

What? No invite? I promise not to punch anyone this time.

Mad Jack said...

We were only being considerate of your feelings, SensorG. You see, some of us are gun owners and we wouldn't want you to feel uncomfortable around us.

HistoryMike is much younger looking than I expected, even considering his photo. As Mike stated, GZ is much more affable in person than his presence on the Internet would seem to indicate. I suppose GZ's agreeable demeanor might be affected by the absence of confrontational morons and fatheads that normally challenge his opinions. Katie is as beautiful and vivacious as ever.

As for me, I observe that a good time was had by all.

historymike said...


Yes sir: I heartily endorse like-minded bloggers to met up. Previous to this day the only blogger I met in real-life was Lisa REnee at Glass City Jungle (excepting, of course, any of my friends from real life who later began to blog).

historymike said...


I was graced with an invitation, and members of the group that invited me are highly desirous of maintaining their individual anonymity. They have been gradually reaching out to interesting bloggers, but each of them expressed an interest in a broader "invite the bloggers" movement so that none of the significant loons in the area blogosphere wind up turning into real-life stalkers (el mahico, David Ben-Airel, or Mike "Phakit Mann" Coon, to name but a few).

historymike said...


Thanks for the appearance compliment; my children regularly abuse me with snarky "old man" jokes, so it is refreshing to hear that I do not look ancient.

I agree that GZ's online persona might be in part driven by the characters who weigh in on a given thread. What I found intriguing is that he is much more considerate and likeable in person than the somewhat brusque and abrasive manner his online personality occasionally comes across as.

kateb said...

I had such a nice evening. You are all witty, intelligent and capable of discussing a broad variety of topics and interests. Good sense of humor too :-)

Yes, I am very careful - I don't care to meet some of the more misogynistic types that I've crossed lexicon with online in real time.

But the ones that can debate - show tolerance for divergent viewpoints? Absolutely.

It was really good to meet you Mike and it was surely nice to see Jack back home! And never underestimate GZ. He's a good and loyal friend.

You do look considerably younger than your blog photo...I think it's the beard?

Thomas said...

I think HM tries to appear gruff and intimidating to potential students. He tries to look hardcore, and for online students, it works, but not for traditional students.

I researched him before I took his class, and had a few questions, but once I knew he was not a Finkbeiner fan either, I knew his class would be survivable.

(The last thing I want to do is take a class with a Carty supporter after running a campaign against him)

Carol said...

"Previous to this day the only blogger I met in real-life was Lisa REnee at Glass City Jungle..."

Ahem! So I'm taking this to mean that I don't rate here. LOL I think we had a chat at the coffee shop on Monroe once, and then again at the Java Mill in the Point.

But that's OK - Kate, Jack and GZ are good people. And Lisa Renee' is a special soul. So I won't feel too left out ... much.

Glad you all were able to get together. That was a true meeting of the minds, that group. As diverse as diverse can get. :)

SensorG said...

Well I'm harmless and would mind meeting you all sometime. Assuming MJ won't shoot me...

kateb said...

I miss you Carol!!!! Hugely.

historymike said...


Thanks for the compliments, and I think the beard does make me look older.

Or maybe more like Ted Kaczynski.

historymike said...


Ha! I remember you asking me that, and I remember being puzzled at the time because I had forgotten about your important role in the first recall campaign.

As for the blog photo: I think I deliberately chose a grim-faced picture for the neo-Nazi trolls who used to visit.

historymike said...


Whoops. Not only you, but I left out a few others with that off-the-cuff statement.

And I still owe you a cup of coffee the next time you are in Toledo.

Carol said...


I appreciate that you are willing to spring for a cup of coffee ..... but just ask Kate. I have no intention of returning to Toledo. LOL

For me the expressway was strictly one way ... and that was south! Now, if you ever come to North Carolina then we can talk. Heck! I'll even spring for the coffee at that point!

Peahippo said...

Why don't we invite littlered and Bob from "that paper". They get along famously, albeit strangely. And remember Chuck the postman? I found his high-school alumnus entry online by chance, which reminded me of him.

kateb said...

It's true, we've lost Carol for good. Although I put up a fight, you can't fight logic for long. And I want what's best for her.

GZ - yes that's a great idea. We're gonna' need a bigger table.

kateb said...

If we go back to the Distillery we need to let Jim know so he can be there.

He has a million funny stories.