Deep in the night, a long time ago in Daydreaming on the Porch

  • Oct. 25, 2021, 10:40 p.m.
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  • Public

There was a time years ago beginning in 2003 and ending abruptly in January 2010 when I was rather “addicted” to online chat, spending way too much time in one particular chatroom. I hate to even confess this, but it is true.

Long into the nights, I would have conversations with strangers that sometimes lasted hours weeks, months or even years. Most were just for one night or a few, and ended, mostly at the doing of the other person. I was usually game to keep going, but by doing this I made a fool of myself on more then one occasion by presuming too much about others and appearing needy, which I was.

This was all highly frustrating, often humiliating, but also enlightening and revealing and highly enjoyable, as time flew by with always the possibility of a big, pleasant surprise — a new good friend, someone to hang out with, or more.

Much of the chatting was meaningless and embarrassing drivel, but some of it caught fire, and represented a genuine and burning attempt by me and others who responded favorably to my inquiries, at least for a short time, to explore dimensions of myself and themselves we’d most likely never really delved into with anyone previously. It was anonymous, and it could be riveting and potentially life altering, in good and bad ways. It was adventurous and also risky. I was on a quest. It was perfect for a lonely single person like myself whose only other social outlet was work, and that was very limiting, though vital, too, of course. After some seven years of doing this, the final result was one lasting friendship, but lately even that one is hanging by a slender thread.

Today you never hear of chat rooms because their function has been absorbed into monopolistic behemoths like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other platforms that try to addict you with their self-serving, money-grubbing platforms, namely Facebook, which I dropped ten years ago.

The point of this beginning diatribe is simply this. I had not had a lengthy chat with anyone (and by lengthy I mean three or more hours) since 2010. I had quit all chat pretty much cold turkey, except for brief messaging with a few online friends in the ensuing ten years. Didn’t really miss it. Didn’t think about it that much. Most people don’t have the time for it, excpt for those night owls like myself who thrive in the dark, still late nights when everyone else is asleep and I’m at the peak of the day’s productivity. All this while I was working full time and getting 4-5 hours if sleep a night, max. I functioned fine during the day. I just was pretty much glad when the day was over and night had set in.

Then, about a month or so ago, I discovered a quite fascinating person into all kinds of interesting philosophy, psychology and esoteric knowledge. So one night (and there were only two lengthy chats) I found myself swept up into one of those alternative universe chats into which I had plunged so often years ago, and which mesmerized and excited me. And it was all because of the Internet, of course.

It was happening again. Suddenly it seemed like deja vu “all over again.” I began to feel like I was temporarily suspended once more in a twilight world of unknown possibilities. And then it ended as abruptly as it began. The person, who was in New Zealand, a country I’m fascinated by, simply disappeared. What I hoped would progress and continue is now only a wispy filament of smoke and mirrors, unfathomably lost, whereas just a week ago it seemed so ripe with possibilities for learning and mind expansion on my part and vice versus, I had hoped.

Here is just a brief snippet of the conversation near the end of our second and final Direct Message chat on Oct. 10:

All fascinating to me. But my quest is inner now, not outer.

Time is running out, so the nature of my immediate surroundings is my universe.

I have travel plans but they aren’t urgent or necessary as they once were or seemed to be at the time.

I learn all I need now in my immediate surroundings.

Can you even imagine where this was leading? As it turns out, it led to one of those innumerable dead ends of life we have to back out of, mystified and left searching for hints of meaning in it all.

Last updated October 26, 2021

Jinn October 25, 2021

Interesting . I think PB is as close to a chat room as I have ever been. I am not great at talking . When I worked as a therapist I realized my greatest gift was my ability to listen , so it did not matter that I am not a great conversationalist. I think I can hold my own in a discussion but I need the other person to spark my need to debate or discuss. I am sorry your potential chat friend disappeared.

Oswego Jinn ⋅ October 26, 2021

I agree about PB and OD before that. The comment sections lend themselves to a type of leisurely chat which is definitely better than typing quickly and rushing to get out thoughts just to keep up with the other person and still remain intelligible. 🥺

It’s truly a mystery about the brief new chat friend who disappeared with seemingly no desire to resume chatting after what were two quite remarkable and very interesting online conversations.

The ability to listen is a great gift!

Lady of the Bann October 26, 2021

Needy? We all need people.(luckiest people in the world?)
You,my friend, also need words. I am not sure I could keep up with you for 3 hours either although I find reading you is fascinating.
With online stuff, particularly in love matters, it is easy to see what we want to see, to be influenced by what they want us to see and what we need in ourselves . We are flattered that someone wants to know us and spend time with us and even want unreal virtual sex with us.
I even chatted to someone having prostate problems, whose doctor advised he engage in online sex chat to get things going.
I also met someone that I had 'needed' in my early Open diary days. It was years later on my trip to Australia. Turned out to be the most terrifying time of my life.
Are you in any writing groups or classes? My son has a few outlets for that. Even when he was 15 and we had our first computer, he got involved in science fiction roleplay.
Do you have U3A where you are? It might be a way of finding new friends.

Oswego Lady of the Bann ⋅ October 27, 2021

I found your comment very interesting and illuminating. Yes, it’s true that I saw in people I was trying to get to know online in the chat room what I wanted or hoped to see. Or imagined was there when in reality they were for the most part simply lurking in the room, bored and oblivious to my appeals for chat and attention. We all crave that in one form or another. But I was oblivious by choice and ever the optimist so I plunged ahead, neck deep at times in murky chat-life waters. I looked to the chat room to fulfill many needs, let’s put it like that.

I was for two years in a Writing Circle group that I really enjoyed, then the pandemic kiboshed that and I haven’t been back. We read essays, poetry and fiction we had written and group members commented on that writing. It was fun, but the group was actually too large and the fiction and non-fiction camps merely pretended to be interested in the other. So there really should be two separate groups. I may go back as it was a nice social outlet and diversion.

I don’t know what U3A is, but will check into it.

Lady of the Bann Oswego ⋅ October 27, 2021 (edited October 27, 2021)


University of the 3rd Age. They have a community in my are and my friend David, goes to Badminton and dance classes. I have never signed up, I always said 'when I have time'.
In your comment about needing attention, i was reminded of an excercise i took part in. I never finished school. I left before I turned 15 and always felt lacking. So as I was older and had proved to myself I could do it,by helping my kids with homework, I did some night classes and then a couple of short university courses. Sociology and Psychology. I was then invited to a day seminar in a hotel in Belfast. We were split into pairs and had to introduce ourselves to the other person and they had to either engage with us and give all their attention or be totally uninterested and looking away, twiddling thumbs etc. As I started talking and the other girl looked away,looked bored,fiddling with her hair I was shocked at the devastation I felt. Pure emotion, even though I knew it was an exercise. I have always remembered that feeling. We need acceptance and attention, some more than others. I may have told you this story before because I feel we have discussed 'people pleasers' and my upbringing and needing to please my Mother.
I enjoyed a writing group too. Although too much time was taken up listening to others writing which wasn't to my taste.

A Pedestrian Wandering October 26, 2021

I think chat rooms filled our need for intimacy, they were a shortcut to it. Without the immediate sensory judgment that informs our real life we could explore the thoughts and minds of others. There is some degree of that here in PB, I think. It's easy to see how it can be a craving, especially for people who who are not finding what they want in their outside world.

ConnieK October 26, 2021

I enjoy "meeting" others, and getting a glimpse into lives I'd never have known, but I've seen enough to know that relationships, especially online relationships, are tenuous at best.

Oswego ConnieK ⋅ October 26, 2021

Very true!! The best and longest friendships for me that still last are from the early days of Open Diary, 20 years ago. Amazing!

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