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British Expats – My place in the cyberworld

When I first started using the British Expats site I never imagined how addictive it could be, nor did I imagine just how attached I would become to some of the members on it. Three years later I am still on here as much as I was when I made those first steps to enquire about migration and I would now class it as an important part of my social life.

When I first started using the British Expats site I never imagined how addictive it could be, nor did I imagine just how attached I would become to some of the members on it.

Three years later I am still on here as much as I was when I made those first steps to enquire about migration to Australia and I would now class it as an important part of my social life where a night in with a bottle of wine can easily include several BE members, and the fact that none of them are in front of me doesn’t stop enjoying their company as though they were.

So just how important is cyberland and the people in it? Ray from the Lounge once described us as “˜pixel people’. This is something that I hotly dispute because I do remember when a rumour went around the forum about Ray dying, I was almost bereft and judging by the reaction of many on the forum, I wasn’t the only one although he took some flack for that little episode afterwards!

When Ray did come back, all was well in my cyber world because really I do not like change and get an absurd amount of comfort by seeing the “˜regulars’ online which is often easy to spot by their avatars – Oh yes, I don’t really like those being changed either!

If a regular member doesn’t appear for a few days, a thread is usually started asking about their whereabouts. You can bet your life that someone will post “˜They are getting a life’, which sort of indicates those of us that post on here don’t have one.

It really is up to us as individuals how we live our lives and many of us live far away from friends or don’t have access to a car so chatting to people online is just another way of living/enjoying our lives – it doesn’t mean that we don’t have one because we cannot see the people that we are communicating with.

I for one like nothing better after a hard days work to relax whilst using my computer and to catch up with friends. There is nothing nicer than sitting on the sofa with a cup of tea and surfing the net on Expats, with several windows open, trying to keep up with about four subscribed threads and laughing hysterically at some of the posts with my husband leaning over trying to see who is who and what is going on in cyber world.

Of course being a member of a site such as British Expats often gives opportunity to meet other members. Having gone to several of the meets and meeting up with people that I can only imagine by their avatar, I have made some good friendships along the way.

For example Gobbyjock and Sorchar have become very good friends to me and had it not been for BE, then I would never have met them. There are many others on the site that helpful and considerate to the nth degree – Wendy, Tiddlypom, Dorothy and Littletoe to name but a few.

Cyber friendships or not, they are very real and in my opinion equally as valuable as any other friendship.

The migration agents that frequent the site are also worth their weight in gold. Fair enough there is potential business in it for them but they do also give their advice for free on the site.

I have known Alan Collett for many years now and have met him once or twice and even though I have my visa now, I still enjoy reading his posts and exchanging the odd message.

George Lombard, who is our agent and has been very supportive to us throughout our application, is also someone that I consider as a friend and I would like to meet one day.

Basically we just get used to the “˜gang’ that are online at similar times to ourselves, saying that I do feel that I miss out sometimes due to the time difference and often feel quite jealous of the Aussie crew – soon to be rectified when I come to Perth next March!

Cyberland is also in many ways a form of escapism. I can almost forget myself in the bright colours of the Expat forum and totally lose track of time as I type, read, laugh and sometimes cry along with posters and their situations.

I remember a short while ago when there was a Lunar eclipse and I was online on the BE site at the time. My husband found it hysterically funny as I would be frantically typing on BE and then every five minutes rushing downstairs to check on the progress of the eclipse where several of us would be updating at the same time on the forum.

When we had the London Bombings, I was touched at how members of the forum would all post to check if any of the members living in London could have been affected and posting messages of support to those like myself that either work or live in London.

Technically though, Ray is right and we are “˜pixel people’ but it is quite amazing how distance or technology does not prevent a show of unity when it counts, nor does the fact that we cannot see each other in person.

I have found the support from this site invaluable for me and I love the way in which we all pull together when it matters – basically the emotions are the same whether or not we are pixel people or otherwise.

For those that “˜don’t get it’, it might seem bizarre to think of us laughing at the screen until we cry or sobbing due to something that we have read and instantly felt a rapport with the poster.

Another thing that I like about cyberland and that is you can be whoever you want to be. It is rather nice to be online and not care how you look or what you are wearing because the only thing that matters is what you write.

{mosbanner right}It always amuses me when I have gone to meets, I almost expect people to look like their avatars! Take Pollyana for instance, whenever I think of her name I think of her witchy avatar, whenever I think of Lionheart I usually see his head “˜photo shopped’ onto someone else’s body.

There are several BE members that I would love to meet, Leslie, Rushman, Ray, Sue (Admin), Tiddlypom – I could go on but would be here forever. I would like to meet them because I read all their posts and have built up an image in my mind and genuinely feel that these people would be as funny and entertaining in real life as they are in cyberworld.

It is great when you do “˜get it’ though. Once you get through the computer screen (in a manner of speaking), you can just sit back and enjoy the banter, join in or if you wish just have a read at what interests you and if you are anything like me you can sometimes find reality rather cold and hostile.

There are a few blogs that I follow as well and have surprised myself at how much I enjoy the personal insight to their lives. After all writing a blog takes it one step further in what you reveal about yourself and like a good soap opera; one cannot help but get attached to the characters in it.

Basically in my eyes the BE site is a large cyberhouse big enough for everyone. Abide by the rules and you will be fine, if you don’t then the likes of Pollyana and Bob et al will sort you out (in the nicest possible way).

Join in, ask a question, laugh, get angry or cry with other posters – the choice is yours but one thing is for sure, getting lost in this cyberworld really isn’t so bad – in fact it is quite nice.

British Expats – you either “˜get it’ or you don’t.