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13 March 2003 @ 10:07 pm
Musing of a tired Redhead  
So, is it 'better' in some way to get to know someone intellectually before personally? *mind is wandering*

I asked this question of someone. Their response was 'the notions and such that are formed are probably a bit more accurate than the ones you might get with a physical first meeting.'

Why would this be?

*wonders why me in little black dress would be any different than me online*

-the redhead-

...packing, packing, packing...
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Non calor sed umor est qui nobis incommodat.melanie on March 14th, 2003 06:09 am (UTC)
well, you would be a case in point, actually. i'm very glad that all i've had thus far has been your actual written thoughts, and that those "crystal blue eyes" and that fuzzy, obscure pic of you have kept you physically as merely theoretical while i absorb what you have to say. it might be preventing me from becoming a total goon at you.
-the redhead-theredhead on March 14th, 2003 07:14 am (UTC)
So is 'presence' a good thing or a bad thing?

This whole thing came from a discussion with another person. They were of te opinion that meeting people online is 'bad', that it's too easy to put up a facade or just lie, and that you don't get to know the 'real' person. And here we have the polar opposite opinion.

Interesting.

Why do y'all think this is better?

-the redhead-
...not too worried that I overwhelm people in person...
Non calor sed umor est qui nobis incommodat.melanie on March 14th, 2003 07:40 am (UTC)
Part I
I'm aware that there are plenty of people who live out a different life online, and I've definitely seen this happen before. But I have personally been fortunate in that those I've gotten to know online and then met later in person have pretty much been right on the money as far as what I expected. Granted, I tend to let lots of time pass between meeting online and meeting in person, because facades are a lot harder to maintain consistently over a long period of time and that does help to weed things out a little. Even if I can't put my finger on something specific, just having a while to get the feel of someone tends to give me a gut feeling about them. This tends to be a different sort of gut reaction than the one I have when I meet someone face-to-face the first time, because the presence or absense of physical chemistry tends to play some part in that. Not that that is bad, but it can be miseading at times, at least for me.

But let me tell you a little story that might explain my thoughts better:

I worked for several years with a police officer out here at the Center, doing undercover gangbusting work. (I have such an innocent face, they figured I was a shoe-in for infiltration...and they were right.) Now this one man that I was working with had me totally intimidated. He just had a presence about him that was so magnetic to me that it was disconcerting. I could barely look him in the eye, because I was afraid he'd be able to see something in my expression and it would interfere with the professional relationship, you know. Also, the few times I'd let myself observe him a smidgen more than necessary, I'd seen indications from his body language and eyes that he had some level of interest also, (his pupils would be huge every time he looked at me) and I just don't get involved with people I work with. Just...don't. It was pure chemistry, most unwelcome, but there nonetheless.

Now, for a couple of years I'd been talking to an online entity. I knew some basic things about him, but neither of us discussed the specifics of our daily lives because our conversations were mostly rooted in the philosophical and emotional. This was a very "real" and consistent person to me, even though we had certain agreed-upon boundaries against real-life interaction. We were just really, really good friends on a lot of levels. I could get online while in the worst of possible moods and just pour it all out and he knew how to pick right through it and get to the point...and I seemed to be good at taking his misc. thoughts and piecing them together into a cohesive train which made him feel less adrift, less full of questions.

One day I found out from a coworker that this police officer I'd been working with for years had an online persona.

That persona was named the same thing as my online friend. I got online and asked about it, and he said yes, it was him. He hadn't known I was me, either. It completely shifted our entire perceptions of everything. I never had to be afraid to look him in the eye anymore; could even joke around with him without all the chemical insanity making me fight just for composure. For his part, he loosened up his professional persona enough to be less the rock-solid superhero and more of a regular guy. I'm positive that, had we not been able to get to know the real us without the veil of the physical blurring our vision, it would have taken a lot longer for us to be able to break through our respective barriers in order to be "real" with one another, if we'd ever been able to do that at all.
Non calor sed umor est qui nobis incommodat.melanie on March 14th, 2003 07:41 am (UTC)
Part II

I know this isn't true of everyone. But the "me" that you see online is way more raw and unedited than my carefully composed "public face." And I tend to draw people who are likewise online. Those who are not tend to be taken aback by my candor and openness and they mostly drift away from me. The people I get to know through their words and thoughts before I ever get accustomed to their faces - when I do meet them, I mostly find that they are just as I expected them to be and we feel like we've been friends forever, in some ways. People I meet face-to-face, it tends to take a lot longer to break through the walls and get to the good stuff in there.

alt, who gets a lot of intimidated reactions, particularly when wearing her business suits.
-the redhead-theredhead on March 14th, 2003 08:12 am (UTC)
Re: Part II
Oh! *Good* point.

Public face.

And I think I am a lot like you. I'm very polite in person, almost to a fault. Too much Roman Catholic school and daddy was an AF Colonel.

As for the intimidation thing - people keep telling me that this happens but I really, really don't understand why. It's not like I'm 6 ft tall or a model or something. Stu told me this just the other evening when I asked him why I was the *only* one of that group of little girls (in a time long ago and far away) that he didn't date. I just cannot wrap my mind around him saying 'I was afraid of you'. I was nice, I was polite, I even have a sense of humour... *sigh*

Walls - walls are goodness *smile*

-the redhead-

...now has food for thought...
Non calor sed umor est qui nobis incommodat.melanie on March 14th, 2003 08:35 am (UTC)
Re: Part II
so far i've only gotten a few points from people on why i might be intimidating.

1. the way i walk. i guess that's from the runway training. i do have a distinct way of walking, very assured and purposeful. had a boyfriend who affectionately called me "sarge" because of my no-nonsense way of getting from point a to point b with no dallying around, and he used to tease me about having such an aggressive but feminine walk. :p
2. the way i talk. don't know why, expect maybe for Dem Big Wurds and probably my smartass, cynical idea of funny. *shrug*
3. some people find it very upsetting that i *look* really innocent and as if i've led a terribly sheltered existence, but when i open my mouth an entirely different person seems to live in there. it's just too much contradiction for some people. *shrugs again*.

~M
-the redhead-theredhead on March 14th, 2003 08:44 am (UTC)
Re: Part II
Dem Big Wurds

*nod*

- Brains. Always been a problem *sigh* I tried being a bimbo once - tried really hard for about a year. It didn't work.

- The red hair. Com'on - redheads are just people like everyone else. I'm the most polite and well-behaved redhead around, generally. But it's like people are just waiting for an explosion of some sort. Stereotyping at it's best *snort* Did I mention that I'm polite and well-behaved and such in public? I really do have a sense of humor too. And I don't regularly eat people for lunch either...

I'm sure there are other things too.

-the redhead-

Liquid Tension Movementperspicuity on March 14th, 2003 08:24 am (UTC)
Re: Part II
hmmm, that's a good story!

i've also had that happen, 2 or 3 different online "personas" for different groups, contexts, and i was "talking" to the same person and in RL too, and we slowly grew to realize that we was the same two folx talking. it was pretty cool actually. "that was YOU? yay!"

walls and faces. interesting. i shall ponder.