I've been online now for about 13 years. I've gone from not knowing how to turn a computer on, to feeling pretty comfortable with dinking around with the computer and the internet.
I've chatted online for several years now, in several programs. The first time I started chatting I actually was using a file sharing program that also had rooms for chatting in text (this was before webcams). I spent time talking to people from all over the world, and was pretty surprised to discover two things:
1. No matter what culture or country you live in, we are all human and have that as a common denominator.
2. The world seems a much smaller place online.
Mark is a wonderful person, and I was amazed to learn he had never been more than about 50 kilometers from his home in his entire life, and never on a plane! I thought it took a great deal of courage to come all the way to the US to visit with strangers. This was a first time experience for my family too. I think they thought I was a little bit insane, but thankfully they really do trust my judgement. I wanted to see how everyone would react, and I was glad to see that Mark loved the visit, and my family, and my family loved Mark too and we all had a great time. So much so that when Mark left, he and I both shed tears of sadness that he had to go.
I share this because I am concerned about much of the negativity I read about the internet. I know there are sick people who use the internet for the wrong reasons, perverted reasons. But I have also seen the good side, made many acquaintances I call friends, and had some exciting adventures along the way. I told Steve that he better participate with me or be left at home, and so he has shared my adventures.
I have met some amazing people, some interesting people, and some who were a bit too attached to this thing we call the internet. But I would do it all again, for the opportunity to meet and discuss, with people I normally wouldn't have the opportunity to talk to, many subjects about many different things.
It has changed me as a person, as have all my life experiences, and I have learned so much.
I thank you all for the opportunity to learn and grow. And I thank you Mark, for being my leap into the tangled web of the internet, into the adventure of a lifetime.
And the adventure continues.....