Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Telecommuters and Virtuality Go Together

As a full-time telecommuter the vast majority of my relationships are virtual by the nature of my work arrangements. Of course, I have a long standing in person relationship with my boss -- I was lucky enough to work with him for about eight years before I went virtual. But most of the people I work with on a daily basis are predominantly virtual associates -- I've met many of them in person, but our day-to-day interaction is virtual.

IM, email, phone, teleconference: lots of contact, but always intermediated by technology.

Lately, I've also been getting more into Facebook. For whatever reason my friend list has really expanded in the last two months and filled itself with people I once had close in-person relationships with. In many cases, I've not seen or spoken with these people in 15 or more years, but we're now communicating regularly on Facebook and through other technologies.

And I love it.

I am finding that we're picking up where we left off, and I feel like I'm connecting in ways that feel really real. There are a few reasons for this. These are people with whom I was really close at one point: whether it's old boyfriends, people I lived with in college, people from the music scene right after college, I spent a long time in the real world with these people. This makes it easy to feel close and communicate freely when we reconnect.

Most of these people are liberal arts grads, too, and what can liberal arts grads do? Write. Frankly, it's the only reason I have a job today (well, that and my fast typing). People I know are good with words, and choosing words that express your emotions and whatnot well makes virtual connections more fruitful.

I think I also am making the best of it because this is how I live my life now. I just type type type and get things done, whether it's socially, professionally, or creatively.

But is it really as intimate as it feels? Would I be able to connect with these people as well if we were face to face at a party? I don't know, but I'd like to think so. I do still see people in real life, I go to bars and talk to people I don't know, I'm hip, I'm cool. But then things like this make you think.

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