May 9th, 2001

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Tricky topic to tackle.

In a recent email I got, somebody wrote that "'friend is a title tossed around on IRC like 'love' is in a high school."

Besides just liking the similie (although I don't like the person who wrote it -- however, I did once tell him one of his many talents is writing.), it brings up an interesting point. Not quite the point he was trying to get at, but a point nonetheless. We don't know who everybody is on IRC, and all we have to judge by is their words, which pass as actions. In the IRC enviornment, the words "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me" is patently untrue.

And in some ways, it's kinda a shame. Because, especially in English, words are tricky and nebulous, and often hard to get a hand on. The big example is over the spy plane crisis we had recently. We wrote "very sorry", they translated it, everbody was happy. Even if we didn't mean it. Another example is, if you follow open source, and the idea of Free Software. Richard Stallman often has to quantify the word as "Free as in speech, not free as in beer."

And the word friend is like that. It runs the gauntlet between "Yeah, I know him." and "Yeah, I'd die for him." I have friends that I will do ANYTHING in my power to make things better if I can. And then I have friends that are no more than a passing comment on IRC every once in a while. However, if one of those friends who was a passing comment really needed me...well, it's prolly an obligation to at least listen to them and help if I can.

This doesn't mean I'm a doormat. I'd hope to get the same out of the other end of the bargain, and for the most part, they have. I also trust my close friends with secrets. I don't have to ask them to keep it a secret, if it's sensitive, they won't let it out. Which is the point. If you have to TELL somebody to purposely keep a secret before you even tell them...then you don't trust them and they're not a close friend.

This is all just me thinking something out, feel free to tell me if I'm completely off my rocker.

Interesting how my flippant comments on the DMCA get a response. %)
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