For as long as I can remember, its been on the taboo side to admit that the most consistent “friends” you had were ones you met online. Always looked down on by those who don’t really understand. There are always these people who are very judgmental, because the people you are “spending time with” could possibly “not be” what they say they are. But to be quite frank, there are plenty of people I see on a daily basis who most assuredly aren’t what they say or portray that they are either. In life there have been people I’ve thought of myself as being very close to, only to have them suddenly change and reveal their true colors in a blink of an eye, so I’m convinced this can happen anywhere regardless of where you initially meet someone.
Internet does make it pretty easy to hide things I suppose with the anonymity it provides. And everyone knows how stupid people can be on the internet, because they can get away with saying pretty much anything and not really have to be held accountable……. Yet today a totally different thought about meeting people online has come to mind for me.
One thing I’ve observed over the last few years between meeting new DW members ingame and in mumble, is the growth of individuals that come about because you don’t start off knowing all that much about each other.
The beauty of meeting people online, is that simple things like your race, nationality, and physical appearance and background are stripped from those initial meetings, and so all the personal biases that people have internally associated with those things aren’t there to cloud or create judgement on people.
When dealing with people online, you tend to have to decide what you think of them based off their observed nature, how they talk to others… how they treat others. You can end up getting a feel for their character first, and as you get to know them, you may learn things about their backgrounds or culture, but when that point in time presents itself.. then suddenly “applying that label” doesn’t matter quite as much anymore.
By then your opinion has more to do with overtime observation and interaction with that individual, rather than worrying about some preconceived notion based on their actual physical package. Being blind to those things actually has its value in my opinion. . Being more open to wait to judge someone’s character based on the way they behave, rather than the way they look, and skipping the whole immediate “labeling” associated with someone’s outside “cover” can be quite a beautiful thing.
Granted.. not knowing those things can make for some very awkward interactions at times. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen it, where someone makes a sort of offhand “stereotypical” type statement about some group, only to find that someone they’ve talked to……. someone they even have come to care about comes forward and catches them on that judgement…. because maybe they are actually the race/nationality/etc that the individual had just made some statement about.
You see, people get pretty comfortable with others despite not knowing every detail about them, and they start off thinking that this group of people they talk to on a regular basis is in many regards “just like them”. Sometimes we are so used to “everyone around us” having similar views because of shared backgrounds and shared impressions of things foreign to them, that we forget that people we actually could talk to would see things differently. So things slip sometimes, and they say something as if the people they are talking to online were just like everyone who lives around them, only to be reminded it absolutely isn’t the case.
Its incidents like those where sometimes you witness something interesting happen.. sometimes it is a point in which an individual actually chooses to grow as a person. Awkward and uncomfortable as it is… its during those times when some self reflection happens. They then begin to realize that some of the “jokes” or “stereotypical” things they’ve been brought up believing or thinking isn’t actually based on any sort of truth. This kind of revelation is so good for us.
They actually think about it.. and discover that maybe it wasn’t so bright on their part to say something so stereotypical, because here all the sudden the are brought “face to face” so to speak with someone from that “label” and because they value that person, it goes against the limited labels they’ve been brought up believing.
It can inspire them to become a bit more thoughtful, and a bit more open to understanding. To know that even with all our similarities (the things that have introduced us and brought us together in the first place) that there are also quite possible vast differences we have with this friend.. with this person we value… and that those differences don’t really need to cause fear. They can instead be explored and help us to be more open minded and willing to understand.
Sometimes I wish real life had more adamant built in blinders that forced us to question why we allow such small details regarding someone’s physical “cover” influence what we think of them before we ever get to know them.
I don’t really care about someone’s color. I don’t care that their religion or spiritual nature is different from mine. I don’t care what “my people” think of “your people”… because to be quite honest all that stuff is garbage. Its meaningless. All people are unique and no one fits perfectly into any given “label” anyway.
Sometimes I just think that there is beauty to being blind to those sort of things…