All the participants continue to regularly socialise on the internet as adults, and for some it can be better than ‘real-life’ interactions:
‘One of the things that draws me to computing is that I would rather type it than say it’.– Lisa (Application developer)
‘Back when I was a teenager I used to keep a diary, but nobody ever read the diary…processing things on livejournal has been really helpful to me because I get to run ideas past everyone, and they come up with ideas I hadn’t thought of.’– Robyn (Programmer in multiple fields)
‘Having transitioned I find it easier to get to know people in person now but computers and the internet still enhance my relationships in a very important way because I can express myself easier by typing than by talking’.– Gemma (Games designer)
Lisa actually rejects the idea of the internet as separate from ‘real-life’, and prefers the term ‘AFK’ meaning ‘away from keyboard’. Lisa and Robyn expressed that, part of the reason they like communicating online, is because it is a space where they are not connected with their physical bodies, which may not entirely match their gender identities.
For Sarah, online interactions have some benefits but ze also needs ‘real-life’ friends:
‘I love talking with [friend who I met through trans activism who is also in computing], we have a lot of intersection in our interests. Having a friend I can talk to about that is really great. A lot of my friends are online mainly. I interact with them only online, so it is helpful to have friends that I actually meet…There is a limit to how deep a friendship can go if you never meet someone.’– Sarah (Cryptographer and language designer)
For five of the participants, at least some of the friends they have in ‘real-life’ were people they originally met online:
‘The Mono crowd. A lot of them don’t use Mono anymore because today everything is web and stuff but we still regularly meet up [in person]’– Robyn (Programmer in multiple fields)
‘I moved into a house with some internet Queers…I was looking for Queer or trans social events…kept in touch and through them met some other people…without the internet it just wouldn’t have happened.’– Henry (Application developer)
All the participants feel that communicating online is an important part of their lives and for some it can be more valuable than ‘real-life’ interactions, as they can better express themselves online. Even those who preferred to socialise in person were often meeting up with people they originally met on the internet. This compliments findings by McKenna et al. (2002), whose work shows that people who can better express their ‘true selves’ online are more likely to form close online friendships and more likely to bring these friendships into the ‘real world’.
Learn about how the participants used the internet as teenagers, what video games they like to play, what their political beliefs are, or what they get up to in their professional lives.