Cailen by email, because I didn't want to give him my phone number (and of course this was even more complicated, because back then - we're talking 1994 here - the internet, modem, and voice calls all used up the phone line).
Back then it made sense. The ability to communicate in real time with anyone, anywhere in the world, it was still novel. It was an experience so far removed from everyday reality that it could easily be compartmentalized as a separate world visited with a separate identity. The internet made multiple personality disorder sufferers of us all.
But now the internet is, for me and for most people, an integral part of real life. Online is just another place to be, like at work or at a bar. A place that can instantly be teleported to by whipping a smart phone out of your pocket - but even that doesn't seem so weird any more. The internet is not a new world, it's just a regular part of this one.
Look at a recent post by Shine, where she is distressed because her extremely candid blog has been discovered by her mom. I know how that feels, because I know that some of my family members have somehow found this blog. Hi family. On one hand, it does somewhat limit what I can write about it. On the other, it's cool to know that I'm keeping in touch with family at the same time I'm blabbing to the anonymous masses.
Going in the opposite direction, I've had internet friendships that crossed over into real life. Attending Podcamp London, it was nice to connect in a different way with people I'd previously only chatted with in the local Twitter and blogging scene. I ran into Cailen at the bar the other day. And on Wednesday, Sarah - who I've known for years through every form of communication except reality - came to visit. It felt like meeting up with a friend I've known forever, which is of course exactly what it was. But at the same time, reality, with its analogue waves of light and sound bouncing directly from one person to another, has a richness that can't be matched by technology.
Still, the line between the internet and real life has become so blurred that I feel strange calling it "real life." This, right here as I write this and you read it, is real life too. Thanks for being part of it.
P.S. This is the second in an unintentional series of explorations into 3-letter internet acronyms. WTF, now IRL, and coming up next, FML.