Deep Thoughts - Reader Beware #6: Online friendship

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Blog entry by Sandra posted 06-26-2013 02:32 AM 2093 reads 0 times favorited 36 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: Fear and pride in the workshop Part 6 of Deep Thoughts - Reader Beware series Part 7: Sentimental Joinery - sappy over wood »

First, the caveat:

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about woodworking, trying to make sense of what it is that has always drawn me to it. I’m notorious for over-thinking, overanalyzing and basically spending too much energy navel-gazing. This blog is intended to get some of it out of my head. I’ll be glib, sarcastic and flippant in my other posts. Who knows how this one will turn out. It may be a train wreck, so reader beware! If navel-gazing doesn’t hold any appeal or distraction for you, move on. If you’re allergic to estrogen, move away quickly.

My own personal rules are to not to spend more than 30 minutes on any one post. I can correct a mistake if I catch it right away, but can’t go back. If I post it, I can’t edit or delete. I tend to edit things to death and have been known to delete my posts before it’s too late.

If anything resonates with you, feel free to chime in.

Most of us have an image of a young male, living with his mother, spending his whole day in the basement shooting aliens on the computer and lying about himself online. None of us want to be that guy. But lately, I’ve found myself mentioning my online friends to my ‘in person’ friends and it feels a bit odd. And it’s led to this latest late night rambling.

How could I possibly have friends I’ve never met and will likely not meet? And would I be friends with these people if I had met them in person first? For example, if I were at a woodworking expo and stood gazing at the Carter Stabilizer, would I end up discussing box joint jigs with Stumpy, and would I end up mailing him a dress? (yes, it’s true. And he did wear it on an episode)

I am definitely a talker, and can strike up a conversation with just about anyone, so that wouldn’t be an issue. It’s highly likely I would in fact have a conversation with Stumpy, or Eddie, or Dave, or any of the other guys I now consider friends. But I certainly wouldn’t ask for their numbers so that I could talk to them most evenings around this time. So plus one for online friendships, because you can connect without that whole “I’m just meeting her to show her how to adjust her bandsaw” conversation.

So what else? You would think that it would be more difficult to talk to someone online. Think about it. Whoever we talk to (and yes, I know it’s supposed to be whom) can go back and re-read every conversation, comment or statement we’ve ever made. AND it’s all recorded for posterity for the whole world to see. This freaks a lot of people out, but I think of it as a plus. You know pretty quickly when someone is being fake.

Online friends are easier in a lot of ways. We can invite them into our shop without having to introduce them to any other part of our lives if we choose not to. We may quip and make comments about other parts of our lives, and sometimes we share struggles and tragedies, but we can draw the line where we wish. This isn’t so easy in person. We can choose not to talk about our profession or our families so long as we talk about woodworking. And tools. And more wood. And tools. And when Lee Valley has free shipping. Oh, I got distracted, sorry.

One of my neighbours is a woodworker. We socialize with him and his wife, and they are both fantastic people. He’s invited me over to his shop, and said to call him if I ever had questions or needed anything. He was sincere. How many times did I go over? Exactly zero until last week. I managed to smash both index fingers in the extension arms of my planer and needed some help getting them bandaged. We’re not talking gallons of blood or anything but enough that I needed to put pressure and couldn’t manage without some help. My immediate neighbours who are close friends weren’t home. The only other place was the woodworker’s. And his wife is a doctor. With both indexes out of commission, I swallowed my pride, wrapped my fingers in a towel and headed over. When the husband opened the door, he looked at the towel, his faced changed to grey and he asked ‘the saw?’ I quickly said ‘no, everything’s still attached, just smashed them’ At that, he gave a big grin, invited me in and we swapped stories while his wife decided that one of my fingers needed an x-ray. He lives exactly two doors down and it took that for me to connect with him about ww?
And after only a week or so, Rex knew me enough over on Stumpy’s thread to poke fun at me and give me a hard time?

Strange, really.

Heck, I’ve gone over on my time. This would not be a surprise to my friends.


-- No, I don't want to buy the pink hammer.

36 comments so far

View DocSavage45's profile


8640 posts in 2896 days

#1 posted 06-26-2013 02:46 AM

Let me be the first, cause I’m the first one here? My thoughts are it is easier online as people present themselves in one format? I’m a woodworker although I’m many other things. We can monitor ourselves and edit ourselves here where it’s hard to go over our mistakes in real world situations.

Arguments happen here on beliefs and ways to do things. If it’s not woodworking… I’m outta there!

I have had a relationship with my now retired veterainarian for all the years since I came to live in this town. found out from someone else…He’s a woodworker!

I invited a MN woodworker who sent me a PM to call me as he lives about 40 miles away. Never Did?

Hope you are not severely damaged and take time to think safety in your shop. One distraction, and I don’t have a saw that stops.

An on line friend. :)

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View Sandra's profile


7207 posts in 2129 days

#2 posted 06-26-2013 02:52 AM

Awww, thanks Doc. It also just occurred to me that I can’t interrupt anyone while they’re typing…

Fingers are fine. Not broken, just cut and bruised along with my pride.

-- No, I don't want to buy the pink hammer.

View DocSavage45's profile


8640 posts in 2896 days

#3 posted 06-26-2013 02:58 AM


-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View Gary's profile


9336 posts in 3487 days

#4 posted 06-26-2013 03:08 AM

You keep this up and that hammer will be dark red instead of pink

-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

View patron's profile


13611 posts in 3395 days

#5 posted 06-26-2013 03:11 AM

glad you are ok sandra

if not for your accent
i’d say you are a normal person

i don’t know how it happened
but i never got a notice about your bench
some glitch that day in the net maybe

it came out really nice
well done

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Mosquito's profile (online now)


9383 posts in 2346 days

#6 posted 06-26-2013 03:18 AM

I know we wouldn’t necessarily fall under your online “friends” category, as our interactions have been limited to none, but I read this and thought I’d make a comment.

I agree that it does seem odd. I’ve witnessed quite a few acts of kindness, compassion, and genuine friendship amongst members who, for the most part, haven’t ever met. I think one thing that helps form friendships on the internet communities, is that we’re all here because we want to be, and we all have the same common interest of woodworking. Outside of going to woodworking expo’s, tool swaps, or something like that (events that are specifically woodworking focused) it’s a lot more difficult to find people that share the same interests. I know there’s probably woodworkers around where I live, but I don’t know who they are, where they are, or how I’d ever meet them short of walking up and introducing myself to anyone I saw and said “Hi, I like woodworking”.

Woodworking is one of the things I enjoy in life, and another is building computers, building computer cases, or modifying store bought computer cases. I have been involved in online communities for this as well, and recently have managed to build some “real life” relationships with some of my friends from that community. It’s just nice to have people/friends to “talk shop” with. I know I don’t really get any of that for either when I’m at home.

With that, I think I shall conclude my ramblings :-)

And I find that my pride often takes more battering than my extremities, in most cases lol

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

View DIYaholic's profile


19624 posts in 2729 days

#7 posted 06-26-2013 03:22 AM

Hey Sandra,
Great topic.
Not really in the mood to talk, but just had to stop in and say HI!!!

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View Roger Clark aka Rex's profile

Roger Clark aka Rex

6940 posts in 3489 days

#8 posted 06-26-2013 03:29 AM

Hey Sandra, I’m pretty open to all and presume they know that I’m the clown prince and just take me the way I am, as I do them.
My home is always open to any LJ visitor, meeting people first had can put your mind at ease, your perception of people can only be fully realised if you meet face to face. I always perceive LJs to be genuine and people just like me, reaching out to find others with the same or similar interests, an open character and genuine. Of course you can sometimes fail to catch things in some that does not “jive” with your values, so you just have to pass that one as experience.
My wife always complains that I will talk to anyone about anything without knowing them, but I can’t change who I am.

-- Roger-R, Republic of Texas. "Always look on the Bright Side of Life" - An eyeball to eyeball confrontation with a blind person is as complete waste of Time.

View eddie's profile


8565 posts in 2668 days

#9 posted 06-26-2013 04:05 AM

hay Sandra , its a lot easier to talk on line for me ,i have meet many friends with the common bond is woodworking but then sometime i get to know them better and found some very good people here , i do BS a lot but its just a way to keep things lite and not so serious ,i like people and have found good in all ive meet well almost ,i enjoy the people part of wood working and the craft it self ,i think its just satisfying to complete something ,a build and see something i made ,maybe its ego r just seems to add some worth to my time but its enjoyable and wood working isnt for everybody but it seems to attract a lot of talented people and good hearted ones , but then i may be a little prejudice , i dont know why they say i ramble on and on

-- Jesus Is Alright with me

View BigRedKnothead's profile


8520 posts in 2036 days

#10 posted 06-26-2013 04:42 AM

lately, I’ve found myself mentioning my online friends to my ‘in person’ friends and it feels a bit odd

Ya, I’ve been doing that with my wife and co-workers lately. Don’t know why I care as much about some of my LJ friends….but I do. Logistically, I know I probably never meet most of them. But I’d like to. I think it would be a hoot.
There is something about this craft that attracts some of the finest, and funniest people I’ve ever known.

-- "At the end of the day, try and make it beautiful....because the world is full of ugly." Konrad Sauer

View a1Jim's profile


117160 posts in 3631 days

#11 posted 06-26-2013 06:10 AM

Sandra Sorry to hear about your fingers,but how handy is that ,that you can make a reverse house call two doors down to a Doctor. I too type edit and type edit mostly because I have dyslexic spelling and grammar.I enjoy many online friends but have found from a past experience that it’s best to just leave well enough alone and don’t have people you really don’t know come by your home even when you have talked to them on line for years. I have found that folks that are local woodworkers and students I have no problem with stopping by my shop. I’m still very gun shy about on line friends stopping in after my experience of a couple years ago. No offence is meant to my very good on line friends
I enjoyed your post and the image of stumpy wearing a dress :))

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

29564 posts in 2392 days

#12 posted 06-26-2013 07:17 AM

I was born to babble. I talk too much too often. I have tried to cut back on my posting after a couple comments about how much I was posting comments. I try not to be offensive on line or in person. I obviously still annoyed a few individuals.

Since my woodworking is my love at this point in life, my friends here mean everything to me. I have virtually no contact with any woodworkers in my area. My intention is starting this fall, I am going to start traveling to meet some of my favorite LJs. Could I be disappointed? Yes, so could they. Since I talk to a couple of them on the phone as well as through this site, I feel like I know them better than just through comments here.

I don’t go out on the town, don’t drink, don’t smoke and too busy to date. Good bad or otherwise, this is most of my socializing. Oh well, I am babbling again.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Don W's profile

Don W

18791 posts in 2621 days

#13 posted 06-26-2013 11:35 AM

I’ve worked as a computer consultant for about 15 years, and have a few “friends” I’ve worked with over the years remotely and never met, so this isn’t new to me. I met Dave (sikrap) at a flea market last week end. It seemed funny actually talking to him in person. It seemed to change the dynamic of the conversation, but I can now put a face to the name.

I tend to talk about my online friends as if they are “real”. My wife has gotten used to it. My friends here at LJ’s hold a special place in my shop. The generosity of some of these guys is pretty amazing. This internet fad has certainly shrunk the earth a bit, and better for use.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Buckethead's profile


3194 posts in 1923 days

#14 posted 06-26-2013 11:37 AM

Firstly, let me say that you are wonderful writer, Sandra.

I always enjoy reading your posts, even if I don’t respond. I am a n00b here, and my post count is already quite high relative to the post/tenure ratios of others. I don’t want to litter the board with too much of my drivel.

As for online friendships, they are basically contrived, yet the most real. We deal in an almost purely intellectual (no, it doesnt mean we a particularly smart) manner with our colleagues. We can see the souls of others, without seeing the human form. Maybe this allows a more accurate view of the personage? You aren’t burdened with the vision of my ugly mug, so you can see how beautiful I really am! Sure, we tend to be on good behavior, but then we are who we would be when we communicate online. We are a better version of ourselves. I think it helps to improve the reality version of ourselves.

My online experience has been far more contentious as I also enjoy debating politics which is more accurately stated that I enjoy debating economics, which when really boiled down to reality is to say that I enjoy debating religion. Coming here has been quite refreshing. Even when debating more contentious issues, I always have attempted (sometimes successfully) to remain respectful and even cordial. It is very easy here.

I even get a chuckle when there is a difference of opinion here, because the flame wars simply don’t exist, but the uber polite folks here are still sensitive to the feelings of others.

At LJ, we seek help and advice. We get both, and friendships are developed as a result. Plus a nice tool gloat is always good medicine.

As for the estrogen, I have a wife and four daughters at home. I am very comfortable in a discussion among women.

Here’s hoping your fingers heal quickly!

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

View DamnYankee's profile


3301 posts in 2616 days

#15 posted 06-26-2013 11:47 AM

Sandra – I too have found myself refering to my LJ friends as if I’d just talked to them today/yesterday….and maybe that’s why, because in some way I have.

Face to face relationships take just that, face to face, meaning time. Both of you have to make the time at the same time.

Online friends don’t require the synchronization. I can type/talk to you like I am now and you can respond at whatever time is convienent to you.

I think you and those that have already commented hit upon something else. Online you can be sure to talk to people with the same interest, in our case woodworking.

Generally, I have found woodworkers to be friendly, sharing, “down to earth” people. Unlike other areas of interest where I’ve found people unwilling to share their knowledge/understanding/experiences with others…making it almost a competition…woodworkers seem to ALWAYS be trying to learn something new and wanting to share with others so that the art does not fade into extinction. Another thing about woodworkers I’ve noticed…we all tend to be a bit more balanced between “Left Brained” and “Right Brained”, and it kinda makes sense when I think about it. Woodworking is on one hand and art and on the other a science. You can make the most beautiful piece (art) but it still requires specific methods to make it all come together (science).

-- Shameless - Winner of two Stumpy Nubs Awards

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