January 23, 2003

By Michael Strickland

It's a Small Web After All

I probably couldn't find a more "done to death" topic of discussion than the effect the Internet has had of making the world smaller. But it is a really cool phenomenon, one which I discover anew on a regular basis. Take, for instance, the regularity with which I seem to connect with old friends via the Internet. Just last week, an old high school chum contacted me out of the blue. I probably haven't seen him for ten years or more, but in the past few days we've exchanged e-mails like it's only been ten weeks. A few months ago, an old Navy buddy tracked me down through the popular Classmates.com Web site. And last year, I hooked up with my oldest friend of all by e-mail. (When I say "oldest," I don't refer to her age, but rather how long we've been acquainted.) I've known her since I was two—virtually my entire life, therefore—so it was great to see her and reestablish our friendship.

In 1998, I got in touch with an old friend with whom I had traveled to Honduras as a foreign exchange student way back in 1983 (and whom I have not seen since then). Together, we worked via e-mail (and by snail mail when that failed) to track down the other 15 students we traveled with. I even built a Web site where we could post our current photos and news of the previous 15 years. We ended up only finding about two-thirds of them, but it was exciting nonetheless. Perhaps the most bizarre story came when one of our fellow travelers e-mailed me from Sweden, saying he had received the postcard I sent to his circa-1983 home address. He had moved many years ago, but somehow his postman found him. I guess the U.S. Postal Service could learn a thing or two from the Swedes.

I've certainly used the Internet more than once to connect with people I've never met as well. Back in prehistoric 1995, when the Web was still a new phenomenon even to me, I quickly became a chat room junkie. At that time, AOL still charged by the hour; don't even ask me how much my monthly bills were. One of the first people I met in a chat room back then has been an online "buddy" ever since. Besides being a fun person to talk to, she has also helped my career from time to time. I owe at least one freelance writing assignment to her assistance.

Around the same time, I cultivated another online friendship. Though this person and I have stayed in touch ever since, and have shared the most intimate details of our personal lives with one another, we have to this day never met in person. Through the magic of the Internet, two people who have never seen each other, talking between Fort Wayne and San Diego, can be as close as if they were chatting over the backyard fence.

Perhaps most significantly, I met my ex-fiancée, with whom I spent six years of my life, by a chance encounter in yet another chat room on America Online. We began conversing, and before long discovered we had a lot in common. Our first "in the flesh" meeting came about for business reasons, but after I had done some work for her, we hit it off and began dating. The rest is now (literally, I guess) history.

I now exude Internet savvy. I can find a piece of obscure trivia via Google quicker than I can locate my car keys. My friends find it easier to reach me via e-mail than by phone. However, the power of the World Wide Web to make our wide world small continues to amaze me, veteran though I may be. We truly live in revolutionary times. Decades from now, people will look back on this time as we look back on the Industrial Revolution. I feel lucky to be a part of it.


©2003 Michael Strickland ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Daily Chuckle:

Sticker on the bumper of the planet: "Earth is full—go home."

What is "The Daily Strick"?

I have long called myself a writer, but too often I don't do what a writer must do daily: write. So you, dear reader, are the beneficiary of my resolution to make a positive change in at least one area of my life. Every single day of this new year, I will write something, anything, and post it here. It is my intention to use this daily exercise to jump-start my too-long-dormant creative energies, and perhaps generate some worthwhile material this year. Hopefully you will find at least an occasional amusement or insight in my daily musings.

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1/22: War is Hell
Watching the Wheels
1/20: Bring on the Mayhem
1/19: Pigskin Ponderings
1/18: More Stupid Lawsuits
1/17: Finding My Passion
1/16: Gulf War Memories
1/15: Meet the New Boss
1/14: Man's Other Best Friend
1/13: Sea of Fire
1/12: Back to the Books
1/11: America's Finest Climate
1/10: Sunshine in a Bottle
1/9: What Would Jesus Drive?
1/8: Southwestern Sojourn
Wheel of Fortune
Class Warfare
1/5: Very Large Dream
The New Nuclear Age
Going Solo
New Year, Old Cave
1/1: All Things End

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