I play in an online gaming community that is text based.
Sort of like a forum, turn taking, number crunching, fantasy based place.
It's a very awesome place in some ways and annoying too - I've stubbornly held in there and am trying to change the place around to "good vibes". I've been there for almost 3 years.
In this place, you create groups of alliances and your team uses might or magic to defeat other teams or players (in their kingdoms) in order to gain a higher score. You must build your world and you must work together in order to succeed.
I am the creator of such an alliance. In the alliance we speak daily - usually of the game and we sometimes share our lives.
One of my alliance mates and her brother are avid players of the game, and they are great fun. The other day, the brother came online - and let us know that his sister, our team mate, had committed suicide last weekend, which was why her kingdom had not taken any turns.
Needless to say, it stunned all of us. Someone whom we had been in contact with on a daily basis... Someone who had helped us out, who had been a shining example of fun and knowledge. Someone who had been there when others could not be, and who had been exciting, young and contagiously humorous - she... she had taken her own life.
What a mind blower.
Our alliance is now feeling the loss, not only in game play, also in the lack of humor in posts.
It made me realize something.
It made me realize that the internet has become a way of life for some of us. And that the people we meet online actually do affect us in our REAL LIVES offline.
That the people are real on the other side of the computer screen that they sit on. That there is a human element in all of this communication that we are doing.
I never really thought about it much before ---- I've always thought of the "I" in internet to mean singly "ME". But now I realize it isn't true. It is more than that. It is a million pen pals. A million friends - that while they may never meet you face to face... they are just as real as the friends you hold dear in Real Life.
I never thought I would think that way.
But it is very true.
So I wanted you to know ---- if you're sitting there reading my blog and choose to interact with me ---- or if I've gone and visited yours, I'm now going to start "seeing" the real people behind the words and treating them all like people I should love and cherish, just like the people in my life offline.