Today marks yet another Thursday filled with its usual traffic. As the bus crawled through traffic and I was packed like a sardine on the Metro, I wondered about a commercial I watched yesterday. According to match.com, approximately 1 of every 5 relationships begins online. This made me think about "virtual friends"—you know, people you've never met before, but you get along with really well on screen.
The idea of meeting someone "virtually" is actually not new. Back in the olden days, this occurred often through a dying form—written letters. A traveling family member or friend would send word of a contact in excruciating detail—clothing worn, eye color, hair color, shoes, fabrics, height, etc. When the receivers of these letters went into a new town in search of this person, they would meet someone they had never seen before, but heard about through another person. In other cultures, many brides and grooms would meet the day of their wedding.
Even better than those options was the invention of the pen pal. The idea of the pen pal system was to increase the literacy of foreign students. However, many pen pals met one another in later life after having written each other for years. You see, there is something instinctively fun about speaking with a person you have never seen before. Without any photos or illustrations of the person to cloud judgment, being able to just talk to someone is satisfying, and you can speak freely without worries of looks, biases or apprehension.
For some, connection alone is enough. Hence the growth of messages in bottles. They can be used to get information to the world or to find someone—or be found. It is fairly obvious that humans require interaction with other life. Some people go mad on their own. Other people will shirk human interaction in favor of a life in the wild with nature. Either way, I have to say that it is not crazy that people have resorted to meeting others online. It's something that has been occurring for many centuries, just in a different form.
Image via a very quick internet search