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Old friend online (Originally Published with AssociatedContent.com)

In Opinion, Technology, Writing (all kinds) on May 11, 2016 at 3:00 AM

I was sitting in front of my home computer. I’m used to going through my e-mail – the usual suspects come up. Once in awhile I’ll get a surprise. That day, I did. The man that broke my virginity e-mailed me at about 2:00 p.m. His name is Chris. I recognized the name immediately. How could I forget someone like that and he was wondering if I would remember. Well, I can understand, it was a long time ago.

He called an hour later and we caught up on the phone. I had been trying to find him for years…he told me the same. He was having a conversation with a long-time friend and when my name came up; he decided to Google it. I had tried Chris’s name in Google before, but didn’t get in touch with him. I tried Canada411.com, and left a message with people that had his last name – but, I received no reply. The Internet is a powerful thing. Just before Chris e-mailed me, I had typed my own name into Google to see what was there.

As big as Toronto is, the World Wide Web can bring people together, right in this city. Many of my students are on Facebook.com and they connect with old classmates this way. I’ve heard it’s not “cool” for teachers to be on Facebook.com, so I avoid it, although I’ve been tempted. I am on MySpace.com and have gained some new online friends – none of them face-to-face. I did once find a lover online, but that was as fleeting as a flash presentation. My first love found me through my website and it had been almost 17 years since I had seen him. The last time I saw Chris is when I left high school.

We agreed to meet on the following. He lives in Markham, but works in Whitby and came downtown to meet me at a restaurant walking distance from where I live. Before I met him I had breakfast with a professor at the University of Toronto Scarborough campus and Centennial College’s joint program in journalism where I’ll be teaching again for the fall. I told Ted how nervous I was and he was kind enough to share an experience he had meeting former loves. That was before the Internet.

Some people say the Internet can actually contribute to isolating people. Well, it actually brought Chris and I back together – as friends. He smelled like evergreen when we hugged to say hello. Later, he told me that the smell probably came from all the deodorant he put on for the hot day. We sat in the sun and I marvelled at how he was a slightly older version of the young man I remembered. He ordered the risotto and I had the goat cheese sandwich. He mentioned that with his wife and two girls, he doesn’t get out much. We shared a moment at the restaurant that can’t be had on the Internet – that special one-on-one time that all started by Chris typing my name in Google.

The World Wide Web played a major role in finally connecting me to Chris who opened up another world to me so long ago. That’s the magic of the Internet – finding an old friend online really made me feel more at home in Toronto.

Donna Kay Kakonge is a freelance educator, author and journalist living in Toronto. You can visit her website for comments and buy her books at: http://www.donnakakonge.com.

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