So, a bit of a foreward.
In 1995ish, when I was just getting into high school, I discovered WWIV BBSes in Yakima, WA. That was pretty much the end of my socializing in real life. I have some friends from highschool... but almost all of them were names on a 2400bps modem screen.
15 years later, no one even remembers the BBSes. That includes me. Some of them I vaguely remember -- The Secret Underground, Crystal Lair, The Oyster Bed. I remember making an ass of myself as "The Beast" posting stuff using QWK mail...
But that age is gone. No one remembers them and I have no contacts from back then. The closest is the RAT
page -- and honestly, they left the Yakima scene before I started.
In 2000 or so, I discovered IRC. I have logs going back that far. I remember remembering these conversations. I remember staying up till 3 or 4 AM every night, talking with friends about random video games...
I don't remember the actual conversations. I don't remember the people I talked with.
In other words: Almost all my friends are digital, and have been for more than half my life now. And I haven't been paying attention to them.
I work tech support now. Have for 8 years, more or less, since getting screwed at college. I went from working for a small ISP, to working for Dell, to being one of the corporate droids at AT&T. Each stage has been more and more soul crushing and draining.
When I get off work, I don't even remember what I do. Just sit and vege, refreshing forum posts, TVtropes, etc. The PC version of being a couch potato.
It's been literally years since I last talked in some of the IRC rooms. Some of the people I used to talk to every night for hours on end... are completely missing. And I don't even have real names to try and get in touch with them.
Some of them were shocked when I spoke up. They thought I died, and my PC was just never turned off.
Every so often, I remember a name that's gone missing. AWJ, who vanished in 2005 after getting into translating Manga. Purpleguy, who logged out without a word in 2008. KelVix, who... killed herself years ago. Neo Zeromus, who vanished off ICQ one day and never came back.
Am I weird for freaking out about this? What do you do when all your friends are digital, and their names just... stop logging in? Why can't I seem to get anything done other than work - sleep - work - sleep?