I recently had a back-and-forth e-mail conversation with a good Internet friend, author Jenny Milchman.  We were talking about our friends–the ones we’d never seen in person, and the ones we had actually been able to reach out and hug.  In one message Jenny said something like this:  “Good friends are the ones we can eat cake with and we don’t mind if frosting gets on our nose.”

Oh wow, did that get me thinking.

I have heard myself speaking fairly frequently about someone I call “My good friend —————.”  Then I stop, smile to myself, and realize I have never met this person–anywhere but on the Internet, that is.  I participate on several lists geared to mystery fans and writers (mystery writing being my field) and conversations both off and on list develop there. I am a member of several Facebook groups and meet people there.  I meet people on blogs, both mine and theirs.  I read books, and get to know the authors through their writing and by seeing their websites and making other Internet connections with them. And I call these people “my good friends. ”   We communicate in cyberspace, “meet” on lists, on my Facebook page, through blog comments.

Last weekend my husband and I participated in what is probably the mid-USA’s largest writer’s conference, the Oklahoma Writers’ Federation Conference held every May in Oklahoma City.  OWFI draws writers from many states in the south and central area–and a few outside here, with New York and California being primary on that list.  There are several tracks of talks and panels over two and a half days, plus a number of “extra pay” special sessions.  The talks I chose to attend were very helpful. Yes. And they were one relatively small reason I went.

What else is there?


I had the terrific experience of sitting down with four other writers I’ve known for a while to enjoy both casual and heart-to-heart chats.  I met new people.  During breakfast I sat at round tables on three different mornings and enjoyed (mostly) listening to the chatter. (Embassy Suites was host hotel–terrific breakfasts.)    I could hug and be hugged.  None of this virtual stuff.  I have met and chatted with many of these people on line, but, when I do, I hear their voices, I see them in 3-D and  living color. In most cases, we have actually touched hands!

Facebook?  No.  Meeting there tends to be impersonal, posts are often stating the poster’s personal agenda.  I have read communications on my wall that run a range from  “We had pizza for dinner–yum,” to sharp political and religious rants.  Sure, that’s far from all, and communication on Facebook can be good and helpful, but, for me at least, much of the time it remains impersonal, separate from real human communication.

E-mail is better.  At least that’s one-on-one, relatively private, and can ramble like real conversation does.

Recently our great-nephew, who’s graduating from high school with honors this weekend, corresponded with me. He sent me a letter.  Oh yes, I can see bits from his multitude of Facebook communications every day, and I see him in person a couple of times a year.  But this time, oh my goodness, an envelope came in the mail.  Envelope with a stamp, an address written in ink. And inside–THE LETTER.  A real ink on paper hand-written letter.  Not even written on a computer and printed out.  (I wonder if I shouldn’t take it to my safe-deposit box in the bank.  I think you all understand what an incredibly rare thing it may be, and how valued by one honored aunt.)

As for you and me?  Well, here we are in cyberspace.  Oh how I wish you could see me with frosting on my nose!

Your friend,  Radine



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  1. Chester Campbell Says:

    Thoughtful post, Radine. I’ve enjoyed our personal meetings in the past. Getting to know John, too.

  2. jennymilch Says:

    Radine, I very much hope to eat cake in person with you before too long. You’re right–doing so, say, recently at Malice Domestic, is an experience that really can’t (and shouldn’t) be compared to mingling online. But since mingling online is how we get to meet many of the people we will one day eat cake with, I have to agree with your take. Both offer unique varieties of friendship and I hope they never die!

  3. radine Says:

    I have the joy of knowing Chester and his wife face-to-face. I know Jenny in cyberspace. Three well-met friends. All valued. (And, I can hear both Chester and Sarah Campbell’s voices speaking to me right this minute! )

  4. Donna Fletcher Crow Says:

    Lovely thoughts, Friend Radine! And this week i celebrated a *special8 birthday with 5 friends who have been together since grade school. yep, all those years from slumber partie-boyfriend anguish through grandchildren with frosting on our nose. And we each had 2 slices of cake!

  5. terrysthoughtsandthreads Says:

    Love to read your posts … though i don’t often succeed in leaving comments. Your blog today reminded me of a nice post at Facebook: Grandmother’s are a like Mothers, but with frosting!


    • radine Says:

      Terry, not sure my comments on your blog “take.” An earlier one a few days ago didn’t. Will check back again later on the one I just wrote.

  6. Patricia Gligor Says:

    I feel the same way about Face Book communications. While FB can be a good way to stay up-to-date on the comings and goings of people we know but don’t see often, it’s no replacement for face-to-face or even personal emails.
    There’s a trend lately to accumulate as many “friends” as you can and, while I understand that FB can be a good marketing tool for us writers, I question the concept of 1,000+ friends.

  7. radine Says:

    May all of us share cake some day!

  8. EARL STAGGS Says:

    I’m with you on this, Radine. I enjoy meeting and schmoozing with people online, but I much prefer doing in person, or belly to belly, as I like to say.

    Looking forward to having a slice with you and John at Lexicon in July.

  9. Cindy Sample Says:

    Whether I have frosting on my nose or not (and it’s quite likely) there is nothing like meeting someone in person whom you’ve been corresponding with on-line. I had the opportunity to finally get to meet some folks at Left Coast Crime and it was wonderful to spend time with them. Jenny Milchman and I hugged at Malice but never had an opportunity for a long tete a tete so I hope to change that next year. You and I met briefly at B’con, Nadine, and I will always remember you as the author with the best hats!

    • radine Says:

      Cindy, those hats have been both a blessing and a curse! I began wearing them probably twenty years ago “to be different,” (since I was just an ordinary short, plain person, generally an introvert standing in a corner). They forced me to have an image. They pepped me up. I was the hat lady. But I soon discovered, though all others I met could find and know me by the hat, I got befuddled and couldn’t remember who they were or where we’d met. VERY embarrassing. (I’m not good with names anyway.)

  10. radine Says:

    I’ll bring the icing Earl, you bring the cake. OKAY?

    • EARL STAGGS Says:

      Sounds like a plan, Radine. If we can sweet talk Sylvia into bringing ice cream, we’ll have it all.

      • radine Says:

        To Earl and all who will be at Lexicon in Denton, Texas in July:
        Earl, I really do plan to bring icing…the soft white kind in an easy-open container, if such is available. (Dunno this, have never bought icing in my life.) AND, be prepared to get some dabbed on your nose for a photo.

  11. radine Says:

    Weird….comments from Paul in the UK, Anne Albert, and a couple more vanished when I tried to write my reply. Paul talked about the deterioration of English standards, spelling, grammar, and I certainly agree. My personal teeth grider is the too common practice of writing ‘s for plural words.

    Anne talked about the importance of the Internet for those who live in areas remote from other writers. Yes! And I am fortunate that, even in the rural Ozarks, we have an active writers’ critique group meeting in a small town of 2000 located centrally to most of us. (Currently, none of us live in that town.)

    Donna, my grade school group was called “The Big Happy Five.” After grade school we scattered to different schools and, though we stayed in touch for a time, were no longer active together. Three of the group are gone now, the two of us remaining now stay in touch though we live at a distance. AND, we connected again through the Internet!

  12. Jackie King Says:

    Loved your article, as usual, Radine. It’s true, hugs are wonderful…buth virtual and actual.

  13. Jackie King Says:

    Whoops! hit the wrong keys. Should be ‘both’ not buth. 🙂

  14. radine Says:

    Ah, Jackie, you type like I do! I love buth. Our own English.

  15. terrysthoughtsandthreads Says:

    I’m envious of all of you who travel and meet at writing conferences! Be sure to post a picture of the icing dabbings!

    • radine Says:

      You betcha, Terry! I’ll grab as many who will stand for it and daub icing for a group photo. Just for you. (And then figure out how to post the picture. Not an easy thing out here in the forest!) I think
      Facebook is the best bet for photo displays for me. Can’t even dream of Pinterest.

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