I lost a friend today. Well, that may be over-dramatic. I hope so. I'm quite optimistic that "lost" may be a temporary condition. And as for "friend"...
There are a few words coined to describe that curious, but still genuine, feeling that grows up between people who only know one another on the 'net. "Cyber-friend" makes her sound like a cutesy, friendly, prototype unstoppable futuristic assassin, and that's way too many adjectives for anyone. As for "e-pal", "netpal" -- surely "-pal" is only a valid relationship for under-13s. "Mate", "buddy", "chum"? Don't go there. "Online friend"? Just lacks punch.
Whatever you call them, I have a few. Some appear in the list of blogs I follow or who follow this one -- and I really do appreciate all of you, folks. Please don't vanish. Others, for various reasons, don't appear in any of those lists, but I'm always aware of their presence, and pathetically grateful when they take time to comment or e-mail.
JasmineArdent was one of my favourite writers from thisisby.us. Frighteningly intelligent, perceptive and confident. And she liked to argue, as much as I do; she wasn't shy to speak her minds on whatever topic someone happened to be ranting about today. When she agreed with me, which was more often than not, I felt validated. When she argued, I felt stimulated to examine my position in depth. There's not many people who can make me feel like that.
And when I saw that her account had vanished...
It was a little like the feeling you get when you're strolling carelessly across a field on a sunny morning, and you look up to see that one of the cattle that had been dispassionately observing you from a distance has put down its head and is now running towards you. Or, miles from home, you reach the place where you know you left your car, but it's not there. (Yes, I've had both of those experiences.) In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, the whole balance of the world changes.
I quit TIBU the same day, although I left my writing up. And, via e-mail, I talked Jasmine into starting a blog.
She was never too convinced by the idea. Blogging isn't the same as taking part in a hothouse, semi-closed community like TIBU. The daily stimulation, the constant feedback -- just aren't there.
And today I discovered that her blog has gone, too.
I hope she gets in touch. But if she doesn't... Has she been forced to delete it for professional reasons? personal reasons? has she joined a cult, or walked under a bus, or gone to work for the FBI, or in witness protection? -- from my perspective, there's no way of telling. I've lost e-friends before that way ("e-friends"? not as ugly, but kinda -- trivial), and it's always disappointing. But there's nothing I can do about it.
Be well, Jasmine. Write soon.