Sunday, June 14, 2009

I Might Still Be in Luton If Not For the Web

Some of my American friends, knowing that I do so much on the Internet, think that I must use it to keep in touch with friends and family in England. The truth is, with the exception of my Brother, who got his first computer just a month or two back, very few of them have access to the Internet. Or if they do, they rarely use it. So, having been online since before the widespread use of the World Wide Web (I was around in the days of online Bulletin Board Systems), I've been a bit of a pioneer.

As I've written elsewhere, I met my American Wife (while I was living in my home town of Luton, England) through a mutual love of American folk music. We were both on a discussion group for singer-songwriter Dar Williams, when she e-mailed me about something I said on the group. A friendship grew over the Internet, which turned into love.

When we married, I moved here, and while I was waiting for a work permit, I took an online course to keep my computer skills up to date. A chance e-mail to my instructor led to him employing me. I've worked for the company for around ten years.

These days, I have made many friends through the Internet, on sites like Twitter and Facebook. Using e-mail, the Web and Social Media sites has helped me with my work for local nonprofit and community groups. Of course, it has enabled me to write my blog, which is a welcomed creative outlet. I'm grateful too, that I have a small group of faithful readers, scattered around the globe

As someone who has always been a little shy, I do believe that if it wasn't for the Internet, I might still be living in my home town of Luton.


Leora said...

I would never have thought of you as shy! I am also someone who finds typing on the keyboard easier than many face-to-face encounters.

You may not have found Luton interesting, but I would be curious to hear more about your hometown.

Graham said...

@Leora - I am, at heart, a very shy person. I was also bullied at school, which made me very timid indeed.

It has taken a lot of work over the years to come out of my shell. Being in the US has helped. People hear my accent and sometimes gravitate towards me. Jumping into community organizations with both feet is a way I "trick" myself into interacting with people more.

But I must thank you - you've given me ideas for probably two more blog posts!

Traci said...

I think the Internet has helped a lot of shy people. I know what you mean Graham about the accent. When I first came here, I was too shy to speak in public because it attracted too much attention. I had to work to get over that and now I'm used to people turning around and staring when I talk. As someone who would rather shrink into the background, it has definitely given me more confidence, and fortunately the English accent is one that Americans in general seem to like listening to.

I use the Internet to keep in touch with people back in the UK. I'm so glad I persuaded my Mum to download Skype - it makes such a difference to see her every week as well as hear her. Just gotta persuade my Dad too - he's just got onto email!

Pazcual said...

I agree with you...If it wasn't for the internet I think I will be very but very stuck in this city (I'm planning leave to Europe next year). And I met my current boyfriend by the internet and I am very shy and I don't have too many friends but the ones I have are good enough for me. So yes, I agree with you: Internet it's not only for work or investigation...If you know how to use it, it can become a great way to meet new people.



Cindy said...

The internet has made the world a much smaller place. I'm friends with people from all over the world that I would have never otherwise met!

In the bigger scheme of things, I like to think that the more people become friends with others from other cultures around the world, there is less room for hatred. It is awfully difficult to hate a group when you are friends with some!

Graham said...

@Traci - I've found I actually enjoy the attention my accent gives me. It also gives me a little leeway to say stupid things (I'm just the dumb foreigner!)

@Pazcual & @Cindy - The internet does have a way of breaking down borders and barriers, doesn't it!

debra47 said...

Enjoyed the article as I can relate to your having met your wife online. Both husband and I have been aficionados of rock music since our youth and this love of music is what brought us together on the net. Used to chat on Audiogalaxy site and our friendship led to love.

Graham said...

Good to hear from you, @debra47

Anyone who wants to hear more about Debra's story will find an interview I did a while back with her here:

A New Jerseyan in England