8 February 99

I wish I could figure out how to make friends on the Internet, via e-mail. I run into interesting people-- well, that's not entirely true: it's their websites I come across-- anyway, the sites seem to belong to people who seem to have interests similar to my own, and, very often, these people give an e-mail address and indicate that they want to hear from other people.

I'm no pest. I don't send e-mail just for the sake of putting forth my own opinions or espousing my own interests. I e-mail because I am genuinely interested. But I don't seem to have the knack of making that clear. I don't seem to have the knack of... making friends.

For instance, there are a couple of women who have posted stories "out there." The stories have been of excellent quality and craftsmanship, and I have truly appreciated reading these stories. So I wrote to say just that. I wrote short notes, and I thanked them for their efforts, and for sharing... All but one of the people I've e-mailed over the past year have responded thanking me for my e-mail...

But what I really wanted was to get a conversaion going. How do I do that? I don't know.

In real life, there are times when you meet someone for the first time, fall into a conversation and become friends. That happened to me 25 years ago, I said hello to a woman standing next to me waiting for an elevator, and we've been friends ever since. Other times, it's the people we rub up against day to day that we gradually get to know, who become fast friends. That has happened to me too, with the same excellent results.

But, these days, I don't get out much. I don't meet people in person. I am isolated by my work and by circumstances. And the only people I "meet" are the ones who have posted something of themselves on their websites. I would very much like to get to know some of these people better. But, evidently, I just don't know how to go about it-- or maybe it's only that the circumstances are very, very different...

Always before, the potential friend has had a chance to see and observe me, as I have seen and observed him. To listen, to watch eachother as we speak makes it much easier to get an idea about whether friendship is a possibility. But now, I'm--

Now I have to represent myself with words. And I haven't been making a very good job of it... sometimes I wonder why I think of myself as a writer!--

I'm an idiot. In the days before telephones, and before travel was easy, people met and became friends through letters. I know this is so. Often and often I have read of scholars, statesmen, artists-- writers! who became friends through exchanging letters. In those days, people were aware of the limitations of letters, and they learned to compensate. Then letter writing was an Art. And now, it's an Art I shall have to apply myself to learning.


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