Michael Sampson does not exist.

That’s what some people would say when I talk about my friend in New Zealand.

I mean, I have never seen him. I’ve seen pictures, of course, but with Photoshop, pictures can be doctored or even created. I have talked with him, but with Skype, who really knows and, when i talk about having talked with someone using the internet and a headset and …. well, people just look at me and shake their heads. He’s sent me emails, but how do I really know they are from him because anyone can create a domain. I got an iPod in the mail from him, but no one can quite believe that someone would just send me an iPod.

People wonder, too, when I talk about my friend Chris. When I talk about having talked with him, and then have to explain that it isn’t really talking with him, but it is emailing or iming or K7ing or commenting, people look at me and say, “Oh, Internet kind of friends” as if those aren’t real friends. And I shovel snow and think about Chris getting the same storm and not having to shovel because he lives in a former factory, and laugh about it, some people would think, “But how can you think that way because you have never actually seen him or shaken his hand or heard his voice is real space.”

So how much proof of existance of a friendship is necessary if someone doesn’t believe in things that are based on the Internet? If I know that it is real friendship, and these guys really do exist, and whether or not anyone else believes in the internet, I believe they exist and talk to me, doesn’t that matter? And if they know they exist, isn’t that significant?

Or am I accepting too much on just faith?

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3 responses to “Michael Sampson does not exist.

  1. Well Jon … c’mon down and see whether I’m real or not. The guest room is ready for you and Nancy!

    M.

  2. I just had this conversation.

    I finally met one of my online friends this past weekend, but there are so many more that I haven’t met yet. One of the things I realized in meeting Tony was that online I forget that he is Chinese. Not that it matters in person any more than it does online, but it is simply a non-issue in the virtual world.

    As far as the faith part of it goes, I think it takes the same faith in meeting someone in person. If you met me today on the streets of Winter Garden, I could tell you anything I want about who I am or what I do. I would have a hard time convincing you I was Chinese or a woman in person, whereas I could pull that off online if I wanted. My point, though, is that human interaction requires a level of faith, whether it be virtual of F2F.

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