England, the Internet, and Me
When I first went online in 2000, I "talked" to legions of Englishmen (sometimes to Irish, Scots and the Welsh, too) to find out seemingly first hand about life in Jolly Olde and to get a feel for the country, how it looks and a little of its history--for example, if you're from Newcastle you're an "Orangeman," and similar intriguing sometimes perplexing tidbits. Andy in the North told me England is "backward" and provincial, but I don't see how a legendary land with all that rich history and culture can really be "backward" and wondered why he disparaged his own region. I acquired a vivid sense of Northern England from his descriptions, especially of Manchester and Liverpool, and Justin from Cumbria shared fantastic pictures and info about the Lake District. I was shocked and enthralled by how ancient his village looked. The place must be teeming with spirits (ghosts). His downtown looked 1,000 years old! A strapping lad from Bournmouth, a night club bouncer, came across as strikingly vivid with his cheeky Brit slang he used, I felt I was right there.
Kids in the Yahoo U.K. Chat Rooms where I hung out for hours seemed mainly a surly, smart-mouthed lot resentful of my intrusions on their Brit cyber territory, wanting to know about them. I sometimes got bashed black and blue, verbally, and got the impression the British (English ones in England) aren't very friendly, overall. (A few exceptions were extra personable, chatty and warm.) They seemed a jealous bunch too, full of seething envy. I got that impression I think because most of the posters in the U.K. chatrooms were very young and avidly desirous of being more, getting more and seeing more of life, wanting more more more--some wanted to get off their little island, and didn't see how they would achieve that. But I sort of loved them although it wasn't reciprocated, just for their making me feel like I was right there in England, in spirit if not physically present.
Some informants were older, and successful--I remember investment banker Chris Alpine (not his real name) shared about Shakespeare festivals in Stratford-Upon-Avon, but he also described outings to London bars with his chums to cheat on their wives and bragged about how many pounds he had and would make in the future. Helen in Dundee, Scotland and Kay in London are two female Net friends I've "known" online for donkey's years who have made me feel immersed in contemporary Brit life and lore, soaked in it--Helen was a London native and claimed she hates London. I don't see how anybody could. Kay seems like the nicest person in England. I felt sometimes almost the only friendly one. (TO BE CONTINUED)