I sometimes wonder how the people that I lost contact with over the years are doing. People I went to school with, was friends with, worked with, relatives that I’ve lost contact with. I also wonder whether they think of me, how I am doing, but that is just my ego talking.
Before the internet was prominently present in everyone’s lives, the phenomenon of chat rooms and chat programs was the way we communicated online. One would meet in “online rooms” to talk about a certain subject. There was no social media. There was IRC. Internet Relay Chat.
During the years of IRC, I talked to a lot of people about music, my main interest. It was great finding out about new bands, obscure music from existing bands and so on. I met K (just a K) in the Tool chat room when I was Brian* and after a few weeks of chatting we decided to exchange Tool bootlegs. We were from different countries and I had access to live recordings and K made their own recordings by going to Tool concerts. The live CDs flew over the and back and forth for a few good festival seasons.
I don’t remember how this came to an end, I may have left the Tool IRC group, or maybe K left.
I was also talking to a US guy called Jim and his friends, but that was through Live Journal, one of the earliest forms of social media. A bunch of us online folks were into Dragonball Z and other manga. (Not like that cringey shit you see now, cosplay did not exist, or was frowned upon) Jim translated all the fresh straight from Japan Dragonball Z manga comics into English and we had discussions about it. It was fun. One of these folks is still to this day my Facebook friend after Live Journal died and we shifted to other platforms.
The longest and most interactive online friendship I had was with Mark**. He lived deep in a country that used to be deep behind the Iron Curtain. We both loved the Manic Street Preachers. Mark and I talked for hours in the chat rooms, then we exchanged email addresses and we emailed long emails first about the band, then about life. I looked forward to his emails. For Christmas we’d sent each other hand made Manic Street Preachers related gifts. Then he got an online girlfriend. He told me all about her. If he’d asked, I would be giving him tips on long distance relationships. I learned she was in fact in Auckland and he was still in his ex Iron Curtain country. Then came the time he turned 18, which meant he had to go and join the army, compulsory in his country. He emailed me that he wasn’t going to be able to email me during the 6 months of being in the army, but he said he could write letters.
He did. The letters explained how he had a hard time not being able to communicate (email) with his online girlfriend. I told him to send her stuff rather then letters, like gifts that girls like. He did.
Then the 6 months of army were over.
He changed. His emails were less frequent, less about life, less about the Manic Street Preachers and I figured that this was okay, because he was giving his girlfriend more attention now. Time passed and I went to New Zealand on holidays. After I came back I told Mark all about it, what a beautiful and great country is was and if he ever had the chance, he should go and visit his girlfriend in Auckland.
When he came back he emailed me that he met his girlfriend. He was ready for a relationship, not online, but a real one, but her family was very traditional and that meant he had to marry her, or move to New Zealand or both.
She broke it off. Mark was heartbroken and this destroyed him. I noticed in his emails. They were becoming shorter and it took him longer to respond every time.
Then he told me he was going to live with his uncle in a different part of the country and he would be using a different email address. I think I received 2, maybe 3 emails from his uncle’s email address and when I told him I was moving to New Zealand he said something along the line of it being to painful to keep communicating with me when I was in New Zealand, because it kept reminding him of her and he was still heartbroken.
And that was it. End of communication.
I’ve looked for Mark on Facebook. But never found him. He may not be on Facebook or any social media, who knows. And sometimes I wonder whether he was a troll or catfish, whether Mark was Mark in the first place.