How do you know?

I’ve sat on this topic for a few weeks now and after reading an article on Yahoo just now, I figure now is as good a time as any to write this.

In July/August 2000, I flew to Amarillo, Texas to meet a friend I’d made on the internet. She was the first one I’d ever met. We’d chatted and spoke on the phone for about a year before I went to see her for about a week. I had a thoroughly wonderful time. Janet was a good friend who taught me a lot without really trying.

In the months leading up to my visit, though, my mother was a wreck. She was convinced – and still is to a certain extent – that anyone I chatted to online was not real. That the friendships made were not real. In short, she was convinced that Janet was a murderer who would kill me the moment I arrived and I’d never be seen again.

Nine years later I’m still alive and quite fond of the memories I have of that week in Amarillo. I have since met and even lived with many other friends I’ve met online. I’m not going to sit here and lie and say every meeting has been perfect because they haven’t. I know, though, how fortunate I am that I’ve not experienced anything as bad as others have. I do have rules about meeting people which I’ve stuck by since meeting Janet. I think nine months has been the shortest length of time I’ve known someone and chatted before we met. That’s the minimum. I also talk on the phone a lot with them. Well, not a lot, because I’m not and never have been a phone freak, but frequently enough. In my mind, anyone who wants to do harm will want to meet straightaway and not have the patience to stick around.

But, if you followed the link I started out with, you’d know that you can live under the same roof with someone and not really know them. It happened with the parents of the two murderers of Columbine and it happened with my friend Scarygirl. In both cases, there was ignorance on the part of someone that they were living with an individual who was capable of murder.

I remember just a few weeks ago when Scarygirl showed me a notice of arrest on her local news. I saw the surname and figured it was a cousin or nephew, but then she informed me that it was her ex-husband. He had committed murder in Texas before they were married and hid this from her for their entire marriage. Apparently he’d decided to kill a landlady of his while he was living in Texas then went on the lam.

I don’t know of any way, short of a lie detector test, to really know the people closest to you. But I do know that these two incidents and hundreds, if not thousands, of cases like them prove that living with someone doesn’t mean you know all about them.

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3 thoughts on “How do you know?

  1. It is true we all have parts of ourselves that others don’t know or understand. Not all of us are murders or even hurtful in anyway way. I think it comes down to the fact that we all have things we either try to run away from or that we just don’t like about us. These are things that we don’t always share. This is not to say people are not worth getting to know. One can only hope, that given time and with a willingness to except other for who they are, they will one day be able to show you who they believe they are. Opening your life in any way is a small leap of faith. There is always a risk of getting hurt. Likewise there is alway the possiblity of finding someone that will enrich our lives. Like everything in life it is a blance. I think you are smart to not just run out and meet people on the internet. I hope you never find someone with murder in their heart or past. But more I think all true friendships, even over the internet, should be something to be charished.

  2. I have met people I have spoken to on the net. I am also cautious. I had a great time when you stayed here…and am truly sorry the visit didn’t get the result you would have liked.

  3. In response particularly to your sentence: “In both cases, there was ignorance on the part of someone that they were living with an individual who was capable of murder”.

    Could it be that every individual is capable of murder – or any act, good or bad – in the right circumstances? In the course of my life so far I’ve surprised myself with both the good and the bad things (not murder!) that I’ve done. So it would be fair to say that I don’t really know myself; how then can I be expected to know anyone else?

    That doesn’t mean, of course, that we shouldn’t be careful or selective about who we meet and spend time with… good for you, though, for putting faith above fear when it comes to friendships.

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