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Muse for Monday


We spent last week talking about friendship. Tonight, Mantra has a question for a friend. She does not ask lightly, either. She has done her due diligence. Can you help her find an answer to her query?

Ofttimes, we build relationships in the virtual world. We get to know one another through online jobs, social media and the blogosphere. We congregate at websites to discuss our politics, beliefs, support, outrage…we bond in our likenesses. We are birds of virtual feathers.

The camaraderie is not virtual. It is very real. We build trusts, share our lives, heartaches, desires, innermost dreams. Sometimes, we are willing to share more with the virtual world than we are in the flesh and blood world because we have the screen to protect us from physical harm. Occasionally, we perceive it can protect us from heartache because our virtual friends have no vested interest in our downfall. In short, they pose no threat to our actual place in the flesh and blood world.


At some point, everyone who engages heavily online reaches an overload. It is the exact same emotional overload which comes with spending too many hours with a friend in person. The emails and notifications are too much. The pressure builds. We try desperately to be the friend we want in return, but find the flesh and blood world encroaching with everything in its realm:

  • Bills need to be paid.
  • Pets need exercise.
  • Doctors appointments are scheduled.
  • Friends and family need assistance.
  • Socialization beyond the screen is paramount.
  • Death.

One by one, your profiles disappear…

Just as we learned to depend on our online friends to be online when we virtually come to call, they, too, rely on us to be there when they are in need. What happens to them when we leave them alone? What about when we leave them alone with no mention of where we are?

Do they panic and come searching? Do they report us missing because they know the perils of our flesh and blood existence? Do they even notice we are gone?


Over the course of the last three months, I have lost a number of virtual friends. People who I got to know through various outlets, but whose exodus from the virtual world coincided with their exodus from the flesh and blood world as well. For some, the notification came quickly, within 24 hours of the death. Others would trickle in. One would wait weeks for the truth to out.

For me, the answer is simple. Mantra wrote this both for and about me. Lost in Cyberspace  is not about being sucked into a virtual world to the exclusion of the flesh and blood world. It is not about going incognito and assuming a new profile to begin virtual life anew.

Instead, it is about the shattered privacy of virtual friends when one is gone.

Lost in Cyberspace

Where are you?

The telephone rings without answer.
Crickets in the inbox chirp.
Not one message has been opened.
Your walls, pages and streams are
plastered, scribbled and polluted
with idioms, adages and pictures,
but not one peep to acknowledge
you’ve seen even the first one.

Where are you?

The postman brought back the letter,
ANK stamped on the envelope.
The invisible SWAK was not broken.
Mailer daemon came to call and
brought back address corrupted.
One by one, your profiles disappear
from view, pictures in the mist,
DM, PM and chat disabled and done.

Where are you?

We bridged the digital divide together,
enjoyed technological bliss.
But now terrabytes are not spanned
with blazing high speed or wifi.
Have you been digitally abducted?
Did the hackers come and wipe
your memory, destroy your hard drive,
reduce you to bits of mere silicone?

Where are you?


Do you have virtual friends you look for when they disappear? Do your virtual friends look for you when you are missing in action? Have you had a virtual friend move from the computer to the telephone or to flesh and blood land? Have you ever lost a virtual friend?

This post is dedicated to all the virtual friends who have moved to another plane where modems are not necessary.

© Red Dwyer 2012
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  1. hi hun! 🙂

    Yes I’ve lost several friends over the years and for some reason I can’t bring myself to remove them from my messenger list/email list.

    Silly I know, but then that’s me…

    Some were ill, one was about to lose her foot due to diabetes encouraged infection, but then they were gone and silent…

    Love and hugs!

    prenin recently posted..Monday – A walk to the Co-OpMy Profile

    • I know that feeling. My most poignant one was when I called my best friend’s number late one night, long after it was no longer the correct one, to hear the out of service recording. That night, the lady’s voice sounded like a loaded freight train barrelling down the track.

  2. Great post! Incredibly creative!

  3. I have made a lot of friends on the net over the last few years and some have just disappeared. i have lost track of some of them because of my own schedule and lack of an internet connection…which really limits my interacting.

    I have lost other friends in the real world too. The main thing I try to do is to stay as connected as possible with people.

    • Connectivity is important, whether flesh and blood or virtual.

      Just so you know, I had to rescue you from the spam net…

  4. Hi Red! I’m back (again!)
    I seem to get myself so far behind, try to catch up and… get myself so far behind again.
    This time, I’ll keep up.
    This post is actually quite moving, if I’m honest. A lot of people who I have got to know on line have moved on, but where I do not know. Some have said they are going, but others just vanish. Obviously, they have their reasons and their lives to live, but you can’t help but wonder how they are doing.
    I’d like to think that I would give notice, as it were, if I was to venture away from this virtual reality of ours… however sometimes, I find myself wondering if my words on a screen would actually be missed should I vanish.
    And then, there are the times when I’m still actually here, but so far behind it looks as though I’ve gone away. It’s not as easy as it seems, this social media malarkey at times…
    Tom recently posted..The RoomMy Profile

    • Our inner artists make us wonder if anyone would notice. I am sure I would get a torrent of hatemail applauding the venture from the sphere 😉 And do not get me started on the time suck of social media….

  5. Hi Red,

    After blogging for eight months now, it’s very interesting how things have changed around the blog sphere and this post is so appropriate and perfect timing! How did you know? 🙂 I have made many wonderful “friends” through this blogging experience and it is true, when they all of a sudden fall off the sphere, I often wonder how they are. I just hope they’re okay and that life is treating them well and assume that “things” got busy; then blogging returns to the back burner! It’s a surreal thing, this blogging is and I really enjoyed your post! 🙂
    LScott recently posted..EnduranceMy Profile

    • Good to see you, Lauren. I know there are many whose lives intervene. It is the mysterious disappearances which get to me. So many have no concept how comforting their presences are. Glad this was timely for you! 😉

  6. I do notice when regular commenters at/on my blog disappear for a while. I usually don’t get too concerned, though (because I know how life can get sometimes)… UNLESS they tended to really, really stick to a schedule, and suddenly (and w/0 notice) not only stop commenting on my posts but stop posting on their own blog(s) as well… that makes me a bit nervous (because I’m all paranoid like that).
    I did have a few regular readers quit following me when I switched formats, too… (fr0m a webcomic to… whatever it is I do know) which admittedly bummed me out (although, again, I understand – my ‘style’ is not everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s okay).
    spilledinkguy recently posted..A Little Hole in the WallMy Profile

    • I have a very signature style which is unpalatable for many. I take no offense at it, as I take no offense when I meet it in person (See post called Russian Roulette: An Introduction.) While my mind is quite capable of assigning an arbitrary “They are busy with life,” statement to most all disappearances, the uncharacteristic ones send me hunting. As I live alone with my youngest children, I have to rely on those who know when I have missed a deadline to call to see what the issue may be. Some of that we do digitally, and I know many who have no such fail safes. 😉

  7. I have had two such friends..Cromwell and raven..and even today months after they have gone i wonder and think about them…Raven told us she is leaving but by the time i read her mail and clicked the link to write a goodbye note she had deleted her account..
    it left a huge void in my heart….
    i never knew i would feel so sad..i get attatched too quickly may be i should change
    Soma Mukherjee recently posted..A Story Straight from kangaroo’s pouchMy Profile

    • Like you, I missed Leyla’s last post as well. I had bonded to her musings, although I only met her in the last few months. I still have not heard the story, as I had not wanted to pry into anyone else’s relationship with her. I have see a few others go dark, but many were to just go private. I mess up a lot when it comes to those spaces because I completely forget I am in a closed group. Many come here and lurk, while others comment regularly.

      Either way, everyone leaves an impression. What we do with that impression when the face disappears is the important thing.

  8. Since I started blogging back in early 2007 I have seen many people come and go, often without even a word but I guess a lot of users do not realise the impact that they have on others, or maybe they just do not care, who knows? Often you will see a Space become dormant but this can be for many reasons and real life does have an effect on how everyone blogs, I mean anything can halt the progress of a fascinating place to visit and sometimes they never return leaving many unanswered questions.

    We have to be realistic and accept that our virtual worlds can collapse at any time and for any number of reasons, like the loss of Internet connections that is something that happens to the most of us at some point or another. Of course if there is a longer interval, an absence as in a regular visitor, a good friend of our world of blogging disappearing then quite naturally we begin to wonder where they are and what reasons they had for leaving the blogosphere.

    To be honest it is best not to get too attached to anyone as many Spaces are not always what they seem, for instance it could be someone pretending to be a man or a woman to trick other users, or simply a place of fantasy, a release within the mechanism of life to enhance the real world. Online disputes can be another cause, or maybe they just got fed up of posting and moved on to another network, perhaps even leaving the virtual world all together in order to realise what they are missing in reality.

    I don’t know about everyone else here but I have also thought about closing down my entire Space and leaving the blogosphere for good, now I would never just up sticks and leave without a word and I would hope that if I did leave that I would be able to keep in contact via e mailing on the really great friends that I have met whilst blogging my scripts and adding my often risqué extra pages but I am not leaving yet, even if it has crossed my mind to do so on a number of occasions.

    It is interesting what you said about whether anyone would miss us, I too have thought that very same notion and I refer to my first line here in this comment, do we actually make enough of an impact that people would in fact really miss us at all?

    A very good posting Red 🙂 🙂

    Androgoth XXx

  9. I was in touch with a distant relative in America who I came across in my genealogy research. He was my Dad’s generation. Then one day the emails stoped & eventually my emails would get a could not deliver response. I can only assume he passed away. So true about our getting overloaded. Especially since I’ve started a fitness routine to lose weight & get healthier. The time I send on my workouts in the early evening used to be my computer time. I love doing my workouts & getting healthier & fitter but I struggle now to keep up with all my online friend’s sites too. That makes me feel bad as so many like yourself support & regularly visit my webcomic.
    Tony McGurk recently posted..Bottle HeadMy Profile

    • We all have to find a balance. For me, I use a cycle to make sure I make the rounds. I have a map. Apparently, I am going to need to post about my map so everyone knows what in the snot I am talking about…

  10. Oops some typos in that comment. My fingers ( I am a 2 finger typist) were out typing my brain.
    Tony McGurk recently posted..Bottle HeadMy Profile

    • No worries. We have typo fairies. Unfortunately, the comments they skip are mine 😉


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