The Sacred Path

Journeys through the mist

Where did you go my friend?

The internet can be an amazing thing. Almost everytime you turn on your computer, there it is, waiting for you to head out on an adventure of digital discovery. You can meet interesting people and strike up friendships – well you typically don’t meet them IRL (In Real Life), but they can be friendships just the same. You share things you might not share with IRL friends, you discuss things that you might not discuss with IRL friends – or do. You follow and comment on their blog (if they have one), and they follow and comment on yours (if you have one).

In some cases, you learn quite a lot about the person, and in some instances, they don’t share a lot of details such as where they live, what they do for a living, their background, family, etc. You might not share a lot of details either, and that’s alright. We all need our boundaries – that safe area around us that we don’t let just everyone cross. I think boundaries are more respected on the internet in a way. Most don’t pry or pressure. There is sort of an acceptance of the relationship the way it is. At least that is the case for me.

I’m very grateful for my internet friends, and to all of them I now say thank you for your friendship (internet though it is); your sharing, your listening, your comments on my blog.

What makes it hard though is when one of them just disappears seemingly without a trace. You email, you leave comments on their blog; no reply, just the echo of your fingers on the keyboard. This happened this year. An internet friend sent me an email late last year, I replied and didn’t hear back. When I went to their blog, there was a post there (end of the year), so I assumed they were just busy with their move (they relocated too). The post mentioned a slight break, but that they would be back. Then after a couple months you begin to wonder, but life gets in the way, so you forget to email them and when you remember, you get no reply. You visit their blog from time to time, when you think of it, but there, staring at you, is that same old post. Other internet friends – many whom you know – leave comments, and then you all start wondering where they are, and asking, almost pleading with them, to get in touch, or just to put up a short post letting their internet friends know they are OK – or not. No response.

A few of us get together over email and decide to start doing a search to see if we can determine what has happened. We all share what we know.  One long-time IRL friend (thankfully) has their real name (where the rest of us had only their internet nickname), so we start searching. We find things that fit the picture that all of us have been able to piece together from the various bits we each could offer, but still no luck. When the open internet fails, we resort to paying for some of the people search sites in hopes we can find our friend. We keep broadening our searches to include even the most remote clues, but still no luck. But then you reach that point where even the completely irrelevant clues have been searched for from 10,000 different directions. Finally, apparently, sadly, the great internet has failed. You have come to a dead end.

We of course still hold out hope. Maybe, somehow, someway, we will figure out exactly what terms to put in that search box to bring news of our friend, or possibly that one of us will say something in an email that will give us a new direction to search, or possibly, miraculously, a new post will appear on the blog explaining the absence and we will jump for joy.

Or not.

I would be fooling myself if I didn’t consider the possibility that our internet friend has moved on; made her transition to the other side of the veil. Still, it would be nice to know if she has or not. I’ve journeyed on it before to get only the silent treatment from upstairs, which typically means I’m not supposed to know, for whatever reason (sometimes you are simply not supposed to know). You just have to accept these things sometimes.

Where did you go my friend?

Where are you now?

23 Comments

  1. Isn’t it the same in real life too?
    You meet someone, you learn from each other, enjoy each other’s company, become good friends, have some wonderful times… then through circumstances, job, family, all kinds of stuff you drift apart, end up on opposite sides of Mother Earth, the contact slows down and dries out… and you are left with those same questions. Years later, when the internet enters your life you may still make all kinds of searches that lead you to as many dead ends… the questions remain when that person has touched your heart all those years ago.

    • Nil, this is absolutely true, for internet friends, and friends in real life.

      It doesn’t matter how or where you met that person when they touch your life. This person is (was?) a wonderful human being with a great sense of humor and she touched a lot of lives.

      Perhaps we will will find out what happened, perhaps we will not.

  2. All those open ends…
    But maybe sometimes it is better not to know? And preserve the lovely memories you have?

    • For some, yes, it is better not to know. For me, I can go either way. If I’m meant to know, then I will one way or another. If not then so be it.

  3. How poignant, I hope some day you and your friends learn something to set your minds at rest. I struggle sometimes with my own wish to use the internet to know about someone – where is the line between genuine concern and possible – or at least perceived – invasiveness? The internet has created for us a habitual expectation of, almost a sense of entitlement to, immediate answers on so many questions, we can forget it can’t help us on some matters, and at the same time we have to be prepared for it to answer others’ questions about us. I also struggle with my own reactions when I am “found” by people I left behind IRL, sometimes I wanted to set a boundary and I cringe to feel it breached. Like most things, the internet can be used for good or ill, and we have to remain thoughtful about own use of it.

    • Cynthia, I agree completely. The internet has changed our lives in so many ways, some disconcerting.

      I don’t know where things will go with our missing friend. We will just have to wait and see.

  4. Having posted about this as well, I’d hoped one of our posts might be read by someone with more information. We had a little nibble, but as of today, we still don’t know. 🙁 I believe that consciousness is forever; that wherever our friend is, ultimately all is well. It is sometimes frustrating not to know, but also OK, if it needs to be that way. It does make me reflect upon how strange is the Internet sometimes; strong connections can be made, but do they truly exist? They do in consciousness, the only place reality really is. I just have to learn that this is another dimension with its own rules and mores. 🙂

    • @Muse, In internet friendships you are right, the connections have a completely different nature and seem to exist somewhere in between physical and non-physical. Perhaps this is a good thing since it is expanding our idea of what connections are and how we related to others.

  5. Aloha Richard,
    I hear you. I had lost track of a friend and found out what happened on the internet. It pointed out to me the power of the internet, and I posted the story on my blog 10/15/09 the article “Why write? why paint? why heal?” I thought it amazing where the search took me. I had a feeling, but I wanted confirmation.
    BTW, I enjoy your writing, first drawn to your compassionate replies on the WP
    Forum.
    Hope you are enjoying the Islands. I live on Oahu, as I wrote before. Do share your experiences on our land during these exciting planetary times! Cordially, Rebekah

    • Aloha Rebekah,
      Yes, the internet is incredibly powerful, and our recent searching for our friend reminds me how much of our privacy has evaporated.The bulk of the information was available before through traditional channels (public records and such) but the internet has made it so much easier for anyone to find out just about anything with a few searches.

      It is most definitely interesting times, and I do plan on writing more of my adventures in paradise. Right now I’m deep in a big web design project, but within 30 days that should settle down.

      A hui hou

  6. I do so hate losing track of someone important to me online. The fact that they’ve been a part of pouring into my life with their wisdom and comments and love even via the internet can be such a blessed encouragement! I’m so sorry this search has proved to be unsuccessful. 🙁 (((((HUGS))))) sandi~enjoyed finding your blog through this mutual friend’s blog!

    • Sandi,
      Thanks. It is hard not knowing. She is such a wonderful person and touched so many lives. Perhaps we will hear what happened, and perhaps we will not. We will remember her though, no matter what.

  7. hi 🙂

  8. I remember back a few years ago, when a beautiful blogging soul just vanished from the face of the earth. Her blog was left like an abandoned building that her friends/fans/readers would occasionally walk through, shouting out a hello and hoping for an answer….

    Eventually the spamrats came in too, leaving their trails in the comments.

    It was weird. Sad. A real head scratcher for all of us that followed her and interacted with her on a daily basis for a long time.

    I didn’t automatically assume she died, and I didn’t go to the lengths that you did to try to find your friend.

    I did assume, however, that for whatever reason, she didn’t want to, or couldn’t, be found. From then on, I’ve learned not to take this whole blogging thing quite so…well, personally, I guess.

    I’ve taken a few long extended blog vacations myself. For the most part, I put out a “Gone Fishing” sign of some sort, just to let my blogfriends know where I am. And I answered the emails that came.

    Maybe it’s situations like this that help shape our own decisions on the type of online person “WE” want to be 🙂

  9. I too have searched fruitlessly and resigned myself to accept the facts. People come and people go – circumstances change and many things do not remain the same. Meanwhile I broadcast my best wishes to our friend throughout the Universe and hope that the message that we care will be received.

  10. I have not yet reached a point where I miss someone that I knew only via Internet. But for certain forums (not that many), I probably would indicate that I might withdraw for awhile because I’ve been particularily active and regular as a poster.

    I did drop out of an Internet forum for about 2-3 years completely. I did not signal my departurne because I left abit frustrated and didn’t want to vent on a bunch of facless strangers who misunderstood me and most who I will never meet in person.

    Then suddenly showed up which was interesting in itself. It’s a different level that I participate which is fine.

    Maybe sometimes a person needs to “wipe” the slate clean and re-enter later when there will be different members/participants. The real Internet friends will welcome you back warmly.

  11. Well I was able to take one step. Our friend’s web domain name expired and her site was down, but I was able to renew it for her with the kindness of the people she registered it through. So, her website is back up and running.

    The sad bit though is that the web hosting is up in December of this year, and when I talked with the web host, they told me it would not be possible for me to pay for the renewal for her.

    One step forward and another obstacle. How boring would life be though without an obstacle or one hundred now and then?

  12. This is so true, and IRL as well. I had an online friend for over 4 years. She and I eventually began to talk on the phone, and send snail mail with pictures and small gifts. Then, sadly, she had disappeared. I’ve done much to find her, and there has yet to be a reunion. It’s heart breaking to lose a friend, and if only for a moment. Some return, as you mentioned, and evenso they tend to leave again.
    *my condolences*peace and love*

    • Knowing her, as we all do, it is not like her to just “stop” blogging. It was something she really enjoyed, which leads us to believe she is either very ill, or she has left this world. I don’t know if we will ever know for sure what happened, but we all still keep hope that she will reappear.

      It always reminds us though how precious our times together are, even if it is fleeting.

      Thanks a lot for stopping by.

  13. You could always “move” your friend’s blog to wordpress.

    • Hi John, that could be done, but none of us have the login information for her current hosting account, so we would have to copy and paste all the contents.

      I’m going to pull some stuff off the site by copy and paste (all her wonderful recipes) and then keep them. Possibly I’ll get it up on the web somewhere later if she does not show up.

  14. Hi Richard,
    I still miss her. If you’d like help copying and pasting, let me know.

  15. I am one of those people who just silently disappears.

    From childhood I have never been ‘comfortable’ with saying good-bye; avoiding them at all costs.

    When, for various reasons, it is time to leave a web site ~ I simply slip away. Gently closing that chapter ~ and awaiting the next ‘mission.’

    I’ve always had a fondness for the word ‘CIAO’ because it means both:
    Hello AND Good-bye.
    ┊  ┊  ┊  
    ┊  ┊  ┊  
    ┊  ┊  ☆
    ┊  ★

    Ciao,
    Jalus

    Namaste’

    _/|_

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