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Life is a funny ol’ thing. People intersect, coming in and out, perhaps staying for a while, or just popping in for a bit. Others practically move in, curling up on your hypothetical sofa ready for a natter, having made a cuppa just the way you like it.

I never expected to find friends through blogging and Twitter. If someone had told me a year ago that I would have met lovely people through typing words on a screen, and had wonderful real life conversations over tea and cake, and ended up with some fabulous friendships – well, I’d have thought they were off their rocker, really.

A squillion years ago I tried internet dating, back when it was still quite a daring and unusual thing to do. It provoked strong reactions on security and safety and friends thinking I had lost what marbles were remaining to me at the time. It was also quite painful, to be honest with you. Unsuccessful, too, just in case you were wondering – I met Le Pomme at work. So this time around I was quite wary, and the first time someone offered to meet up for a coffee I was completely taken aback.

Perhaps its because I’m writing about food and cake and books and real life, and cake, which mean that I meet other people who also like to eat cake. Or perhaps it’s because of the places online I ‘hang out’ – apart from a not so secret addiction to the Daily Mail, my search history mainly involves photography, writing and cake. Shopping too, in the interests of full disclosure.

Meeting up with people who I have only so far had virtual conversations with has proved they’ve had the same response, so it’s not just me (which is always reassuring). I understand they’ve had similar conversations with their nearest and dearest. ‘What do you mean, you’re meeting a woman off the t’interweb to talk about cake? Are you BONKERS?’

I’ve been fortunate enough to have encountered only support and friendship in this foray into virtual communication. I know there’s a dark side to the internet. That for many people, this can go sadly wrong. Trolls and bullying, stalking and harassment – and that’s before the dreadfulness of sexual predators and the truly horrific underbelly of life. People much better informed and more expressive than I have tackled this subject before, and written much more lucidly than I could ever do.

But, to a man, and to the many more women that this has brought into my life, this time round the experience has been positive, engaging and a whole lot more fun. Maybe I’m more confident, there’s no hidden agenda – it’s all quite simple. You like my blog, I like your blog, let’s get together and talk about baking and cats and the Olympics and family and work and…well, all the things actual friends talk about. With work, too, there have been chances and conversations which have been born online. It’s a fabulous way to connect, like a giant cocktail party, except without having to wear uncomfortable shoes and drink warm white wine. And without the embarrassing bit where you sidle into a room and realise you don’t know anybody, and it’s too early to leave.

So thank you, fellow bloggers and tweeters. For being so friendly, and welcoming. And for sharing cake, both virtual and real.

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