Read some people talking about the internet and it's effects on their lives and relationships and got to thinking...
In the beginning there were email pen pals in Grade School. I don't remember much about them, but the letters were short and only one person typed them up each week. Then there came Juno, and I emailed my two best friends in Middle School. Then there came Dragon's Gate, and I was a little fairy-type creature on AOL who coveted shinies above all else. I met a few strange people on AOL, but mostly I talked to my High School friends.
Then came College, and Monarchy, which became Evernight before I finished. I met loads of people on this game, from all over the world. We chatted, we RPed, we went to war together. We had Bashes where we actually Met each other. This game took me on trips to Boise, Reno, Raleigh, Florida, England, and Australia. I met people, stayed with people, dated people. It was a wild ride that eventually led me to my marriage, but not until After.
I stopped playing the game my senior year, though I still visited the forums until I graduated(and maybe once a year since). After my trip to Australia that summer,I stopped talking to people from the game as well. I got a new ICQ, and now I just talked to people from Home and from College. I picked back up with a couple people I'd met at Evernight, but only if I'd met them in person. My life became re-entwined with one of those, and we got Married.
Then came WoW. I met people who I didn't know, but mostly I played with my RL friends(or Rich's friends, anyway, but most of them became my friends). I didn't like people I didn't actually know. I was highly intolerant of their requests for help. I liked the game, agreed to play the game because I could play it alone, I didn't have to help those strange people I didn't know. I feel like the cranky old lady of the guild, but I don't play much anymore, so I don't mind.
Through the last few years I joined a few communities. This one, for instance, under a few names, but no one I don't know has found me here, no one comments but a few select friends. I picked up a couple Monarchy friends again on here, ones I'd met IRL, and a few people important to my friends. I joined a writers community, but that didn't last long, their anger and arrogance drove me away from reading their posts. Though it did land me an editing job before I left. I don't do the networking sites, though I log in to Rich's MySpace to check on a couple friends about twice a month.
All in all, the Internet has been important to my life, but it never became my life. It has always been a medium to communicate with far-flung friends, and it has brought some very important people into my life. Certain parts of it were addictions for a period of time(years, really), but I've come away from both without much damage and with some good experiences to look back on, and a small handful of friends. The internet is very important to me, as a tool. A tool that has shaped my life for the better.