|Fiction 101: Find the Facts Before Flying the Coop|
I met this great guy on the internet. We started out exchanging emails, then we started going to a chat room, and now we talk on the phone twice a week. We've been together for about six months now, and he wants me to come live in Cincinnati where he is. I have an okay job, but nothing I couldn't leave behind. I'm just worried because Cincinnati is so far away. What if it doesn't work out? What should I do?
Susan, Dallas TX.
Susan, Susan, Susan! You aren't seriously considering giving up everything to go live in a town for a guy you've never even met, are you? I mean, the only thing you really know about him is that he can type reasonably well! It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to just up and toddle off to Cin-cin based on that, does it? NO.
Now don't get me wrong here. Some internet relationships can be very fulfilling, but you must acknowledge that the net does provide SOME of the millions of users the opportunity to create a little award-winning fiction about themselves. We've all heard the worst of it - the guy who posts the picture from the new wallet he just bought and claims to be him. Once that little lie starts rolling downhill, it is a snowball the size of Minneapolis by the time it reaches you at the bottom.
So exactly what is a cyber-savvy gal like yourself supposed to do, you ask? Well, since the internet takes away some of our innate ability to read a person, size them up, get a bead on them, etc., etc., you can start by applying a little caution and common sense to your perceptions of those you meet online. Take everything with a grain of salt, remember that you might be reading more into a message - or less - than the writer intended. Don't put all of your love beads into a cyber-basket.
Okay, I know you are going to argue that this is not true in your case, that this Cincinnati dude is completely honest and open. Maybe he is. But there are other little things that you cannot possibly detect about him over the boob box. He might be the nicest guy in the world on the net but have the table manners of a gorilla. He might be the best looking dude this side of Europe on his web page but run like a girl. There is no way you are going to really know him until you have met and spent some time with the REAL person.
My advice is to arrange to meet this guy somewhere half way between Cincinnati and Dallas. Like Nebraska. All right, now there's a spot two people could get to know each other but pronto! I would say, knowing what I know about Nebraska (that it makes an almost perfect square on the map), is that it could be the kind of place two cyberbirds like you and handsome could sit around and really get to know each other over a weekend. Then, if he doesn't do anything completely gross or stupid, try a weekend in Cincinnati. Or Dallas. Try a few of them. Just don't make a decision that could affect the rest of your life based on a few emails and phone calls. And always, always remember that the best fiction never reveals the truth until the terribly clever denouement in the last few chapters. But that could be a little late for your story. Good Luck!
Back to Julia's Modern Romance
"They do not love who give the body and keep
The heart ungiven; nor they who yield the soul,
And guard the body. Love doth give the whole;
Its range being high as heaven, as ocean deep,
Wide as the realms of air or planet's curving sweep."
(1835 - 1913)