Online Dating…but for friends and books
May 7, 2014 2 Comments
The most glorious thing about living in NYC is that I get the opportunity to actually meet a lot of my online friends in real life or IRL as the kids call it these days. It started practically the moment I got here with brunches and coffees and invitations to birthday parties for people I only knew by pseudonyms in boroughs and neighborhoods I was completely afraid of and convinced I would need a cab to keep myself from getting both lost and shanked in the process of getting to and from the party.
I am from the Midwest. Any neighborhood I didn’t already know or hadn’t been walked through by a friend was potentially terrifying to me for the first month I lived here. Don’t judge me. I’m now that person who walks on dark streets with her headphones in and a preternatural sixth sense when another human being is within ten feet of me.
In addition to quickly becoming a regular rider of the NYC subway and navigator of the bus system, the friends I had only known through 100×100 pixel avatars and pseudonyms soon became my closest friends. Two years later, I’m still doing this. I collect friends I make through the internet the way other people date online. They get to know people. They go on dates with many of them. Then they whittle it down to one person to date. I just never do the whittling.
It’s kind of awesome.
I have friends here in NYC from every background both professional and personal. They work in all kinds of industries and have all kinds of interests. The great commonality seems to be that almost everyone I catch in my net of friendship is a big fan of books, so when a new friend looks me in the eye and says, “Rachael, you absolutely have to read this book,” I take it very seriously.
I’ve been known to stop at a bookstore on the way home and pick up a copy even.
Sometimes when I don’t have the time – or the $25 a brand new hardcover costs (so many of my friends work in the book business and rave about brand new releases they get to read for free and then I get all jealous and it’s sad) – I just wait until I come home and download it to my e-reader.
I have a Kobo. It’s awesome. They do not sponsor me in any way, shape or form, but I talk them up to everyone I know. I am pretty psyched that I basically buy e-books from my favorite Brooklyn bookstore, Word, instead of the evil monopoly named after a large river in South America. And the interface is really friendly and paper-like. It’s great. You should get one.
This is all a really long set up to tell you a simple fact: I just finished reading The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld because Erin Morgenstern told me it was beautiful. And she was right. The book is incredibly beautiful. It deals with the worst ideas, most inhuman topics, and brutal people in stunning, gorgeous ways.
I couldn’t stop reading it even though there were definitely times that I desperately wanted to abandon it. I got off the train last Friday night and went to meet some of those online friends for drinks completely still stuck in the scenes I had just read. They were so disturbing that I dwelled on them all night, talked them over repeatedly with those friends, and sighed about how I still wanted to finish reading it.
And I just want to thank the internet for bringing this now IRL friend into my life. For that moment when I saw a notification scroll past above my right hand when she followed me on Tumblr as I was reblogging away. And then the pop-up on my phone when she followed me back on Twitter. And I giggled a little bit because I’m a total fangirl (which she already knows so it’s not embarrassing to put it in type…she kind of wrote an awesome book) and because I am notoriously unrestrained in the number of times a day I post to social media platforms. I hit the tumblr limit with regularity. I can never believe that cool people choose to keep following me when I know that my feeds dominate their dashboards regularly.
So thanks internet. I’m glad I met you back when I was 14 and picking out my first email address.
Yes I still remember it.
No I will not tell you the horrifically sappy thing it was.
Thanks for introducing me to what I fondly refer to as the Bookternet and awesome bookish folks (and cats). I stopped into Community Bookstore on my way home tonight and purchased a copy of The Magician King from Tiny. It will be my next bookternet recommended read.
You’re pretty great Internet. And I kind of love the home you’ve made for me.