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?
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.