Saturday, January 24, 2009

Phantom Friends

The Sunday Scribblings prompt for today is Phantoms and Shades.

I am a phantom. You are a phantom. I have a host of phantom friends hovering in cyberspace, conjured from words and pictures that can, at most, depict a tiny, possibly flawed, picture of the living person.

I love my phantom friends. Most of you are honest, shaping into words your joys and sorrows, small traumas of daily life, fleeting emotions, everyday activities and exceptional events.

Your photos let me see the world through your eyes. A detail of wind-blown blades of grass, the majesty of a mountain reflected in a mountain lake, the smile of your shy granddaughter as she half-buries her face in her mother’s skirt, your just finished piece of intricate knitting, beloved dogs, collections - all these resonate with what I imagine your personality to be.

Many times, my friends, you cast into cyberspace thoughts that you would not express were we face-to-face: emotions, mental struggles, heartbreak. You make me laugh, you make me cry, and often we find common cause against the world’s injustices and rejoice together when the right man is elected president. In cyberspace we whisper our fears to one another.

But as well as I think I know you, unless you are someone I actually have known in the flesh, I have incomplete and flawed images of your person. Maybe you (as I do} post only flattering portraits of yourself. And some of you might be lovable frauds. I know of at least one whose posts are delightful and wholly fictional.

No, it isn’t me! I am truly Granny Smith, happily married to Otto, visited at the moment by two grown grandchildren who are still asleep downstairs after a late night of dancing. But do you know me? Only in bits and pieces, my warts hidden, my most becoming side exposed.

I love my phantom friends. I want to know you better. If you plan to come to Berkeley sometime, let me know, and we might share a cup of coffee (Peet’s) or a cup of tea (Mint or Lapsang Oolong). We’ll get together and no longer be phantom friends.

25 comments:

mspennylane said...

I love having these phantom friends. You are absolutely right about them, but no matter how well we know them they still mean so much in our lives :)

floreta said...

ooh i like your interpretation here. yes, we are all phantoms.. imprints of a person, a life, feelings..

Rinkly Rimes said...

Having spent a lot of my life making fleshy friends (some more fleshy than others) and traveling hither and yon, I think the phantoms are going to do wonders for my declining years!

anthonynorth said...

Love this post. It is very close to my heart. In the past, I've classed my friends in the blogosphere as fragments of friends.
This is not meant in any way insulting, but the reality of the 'phantom' existence of which you speak.

Maggie May said...

Yes, I suppose we can't be compared to friends in the flesh.
All my posts are true life except my monthly fictional story that I have started writing for "Word In Edgeways."
We do, of course only write what we want to write and I dare say that we all have a side to our lives that we choose not to reveal...... though I have revealed some of my warts that I might not tell real life friends. LOL
Anyway, I am glad of the phantom friends and must admit that I had never thought of them in that way before.

Lucy said...

like your other phantom friends... I LoVEd this post Granny! So true So true every word and Like u, I am every bit of what I portray in blog world and being this naive person, I always tend to believe ALL my cyber friends are what they declare they are.
Like u too, I just love my phantom friends. And Oh how much I wish I can visit for that cup of tea! xox

Alisa said...

I like your idea here. We are phantoms in a way...showing our best side or not. We come and go leaving bits of ourselves in comment behind. Our posts may be interesting or not. True or false. Who is to know?

Nevertheless, I think we'd be friends and I'll take you up on the offer of coffee if ever I come to Berkley and offer coffee in return if ever you come to North Idaho :)

Giggles said...

Except for the scary photos of myself which I choose to spare you, I am too authentic at times. Yes I too know one false personality...probably the same one! But I have met some truly inspirational, amazing people in the blogs sphere. I try not to put them on a pedestal as I hope they will do me the same honor. This was such a heartfelt post. It brought a tear to my eye! Thank you I think you have clearly expressed my sentiments as well!! Just lovely!

Hugs Giggles

dormouse74 said...

having read your brilliant post for sunday scribblings, I was curious about your blog as a whole. An how interesting it is! Im following it now :)
Im fairly new to blogging and its just amazing, a whole variety of windows in to other peoples lives, and even if they are peoples best side as you mention in your post, its still so interesting... makes me glad we dont have a tv licence, more time to read blogs!

paisley said...

and as strange as it may seem having lived the majority of my life as the life of the party... i like my friends of the cyber variety now... choosing to keep them finger tip close,, and everyone else at arms length.....

this was a wonderful post.. i so enjoy coming here....

danni said...

i like to think that what i see here is what i get - and i try not to be cynical or judgemental of my cyberfolk - it's a great emotional exercise for me --- i sort of think that for the most part everyone is straightforward with what they write - but what they DON'T write sketches the outline of their boundaries(or duplicities) - there are still many many things that i could never cybershare myself --- interesting observations here - love it!!!

keith hillman said...

I've never thought of myself as a phantom! I try to portray myself as I am, but I avoid posting any pictures of myself from my shoulders down!

Linda Jacobs said...

What an excellent post about phantom friends! I never thought about it just this way before.

I, too, share snippets of my real life in my poems. I also have a craft blog and a reading blog to round me out a little more.

It's been a pleasure getting to know you!

Autrice DelDrago: said...

Phantom friends are wonderful. I need to reconnect with some of mine.

I did not do a Scribbling this week, but I did nominate you for a Proximity Award. (Details over at my Bemused site, and no, this is not a bid for blog traffic. You needn't publish this post at all. Feel free to delete it.)

I'm so glad that you joined Sunday Scribblings. I may not always comment, but I enjoy your entries very much. I've learned from you and I appreciate the way that you challenge me to look beyond the ordinary in order to see the extraordinary surrounding me.

~ Aut

Fledgling Poet said...

Phantom friends are wonderful...I love them, too, even if we do only know parts of them. And I've been fortunate to meet a few of my phantom friends in person...so far I've been very pleased to find that they're just as wonderful in real life! I really enjoyed your thoughts on this new technology trend...online friends.

Lilibeth said...

I think we need both types of friends--the kind we can enjoy reading about, and, forgetting when we exit--and the kind who actually show up at our door, demanding that we be unselfish enough to notice and do something about. It's odd though--online friends, almost as if a book's characters could answer. What a great train of thought you always invoke in me...your phantom friend, whose name is not lilibeth, but whose stories are true. (well unless labeled otherwise)

Tumblewords: said...

I love the direction you took the prompt! A delightful post and the fact that your grandchildren are sleeping off a late dance night adds another layer to your admirable depth.

alister said...

Boo!
It’s just me : )
Really neat concept, Granny. I agree we’re mostly all forthcoming under cover, in the safety of cyberspace. At the same time, I find so many similarities. We get vibes from one another here, just like we would in person. Personalities seem to shine through cyberspace, and there are some folks we don’t get along with, some that are our best bosom buddies, and some we visit socially occasionally. It may be that the phantoms we bond with we’d bond with in person as well, regardless of good side/bad side… Well, I love that you’ve put an invitation out there and by golly, if I ever venture that way, I would love to trade with you in-person views, both looks and ideas : )

missalister

bunnygirl said...

Phantom friends, yes, but I've made some surprisingly real friends this way, too.

I'm from the last generation to grow up writing letters, and we weren't very good at it. Persons older than my cohort seem to stay in touch with ease using letters and phone calls. Younger folk seem to never be out of touch.

I've reconnected with some old friends online, but not enough. And I've made new friends, some of whom I've visited or exchanged gifts and cards with. It feels a little strange to be friends with people who are only pixels on a screen, but in times of crisis, the words of my cyber-friends have given me a surprising amount of comfort.

Thanks for this thought-provoking take on the prompt!

linda may said...

Granny! I love this post!
Well done and you are right we do only share the part of our selves that we choose to show. I am a boring verbally inarticulate fat lady in real life. You only see my point of view on my blog not me. He he. But I love that invitation to a cuppa. Thank you for your post.

nonizamboni said...

I love you too! and your heartfelt take on cyber-friends. I will hold you to your invitation for coffee someday.
p.s. Hooray! my cast is gone, fingers 'buddy splinted' but still can't find keyes with my 5th metacarpal :O)
Have a great week!

anno said...

Phantoms, yes, but inspirations, too, and all those words over so much time makes for connections that are surprisingly strong. I loved this post, and all the discussion that followed.

As for your generous invitation, watch out! It's been cold enough here to make me very wistful for a California February...

Linda - Nickers and Ink said...

My dear FUN phantom friend -

you are a true treasure.

Love the cute dragon too.

;-)


Hey, today's prompt at MEME EXPRESS is PHANTOM.

Feel free to stop by and leave a comment with a link to your post today!

Blessings,
Linda

MEME EXPRESS – daily blog prompts

Suma said...

oh....i so loved this post...and i do love my phantom friends...

Granny on the Web said...

Happenchance led me to your site.
I have enjoyed the read, so will add you so I can read more. Hmmm Phantom Friends. yes a very good description. I spend hours in the early hours, reading up the latest posts and then I get sidetracked like today and find another interesting blogger. Whooppeeeeeeee!
Love from another Granny