Though they didn't necessarily think that.

No eyebrows get raised, nobody is particularly surprised, when someone who writes the history of an event somehow becomes a key character in that event. A more objective view of that same event might place the narrator in a much less central role, but today we understand that objectivity is pretty much an impossibility. When we retell history, we're in it. Even if objectivity were possible, however, we've learned not to expect it from true believers in virtual community who seem to be convinced that online relationships are stronger than our face to face relationships.

An ongoing and well grounded motif within internet folklore is that of the virtual community that proves itself more resilient, more binding, that a physical community. It's as though only when we go beyond the facades of daily life do we discover the real person, with both his or her needs and capabilities. In a paradoxical manner, the virtual becomes the real. It becomes the platform upon which true emotions and hitherto unrecognized undercurrents of feeling, take center stage. And when this happens, true community is created.

This has become a firmly held, and even culturally encouraged, belief. It leads many of those within "virtual" relationships to feel justified in thinking that they know a particular person better than someone who knows that same person only in more traditional real life.

I wish it were true. But it's sadly very overly idealized. I can't keep myself from noticing that so many of the members of the forum who responded to Avraham's message clearly admitted that they hadn't known him. Perhaps they were hoping that through an admission of that simple truth they might be able to seize the opportunity and further the bonding that they so much hoped was a real possibility.

Go to: If you knew him like we knew him.