by María L. Trigos S. Gilbert

Friends and family complain when we don’t call or visit often enough. The same thing happens when we don’t call, do an online visit, chat, or write e-mail often enough with those people we have met online. These two worlds, one virtual and one “real” could collide, but my experience is that these human worlds are actually quite similar. When virtual and real worlds embrace, we all can learn more about each other in new and special ways.

World Wide Community
Online and offline friends have written poems and articles about the online relationships that take place on the Internet. Online, on the Internet, one finds all what one wants and thinks of while surfing the online waves. This is one of the ways I have been able to learn, in a more open manner, what people in the USA think as well as the rest of the world. Certainly I have taken the time to read the words people have written to express their views about the state of Louisiana where I now live after moving here from Venezuela.

I have read books, newspapers, and online articles, chats, e-mails about what some North Americans think of Louisiana. If I am lucky, I may even get the chance to know some more about Monroe, Louisiana when I get into a nice conversation face to face or an online “face to face” talk with other people.

Virtual Louisiana
Online I have learned not just about Louisiana, but about the South and the contrasting North of the USA as well. Each state seems to be a power of its own with a lot to offer mixed with its strength and weakness. Yet I have always wondered about and requested people’s opinions about Louisiana. These thoughts are what I have compiled from all of my sources.

Louisiana has an excellent cuisine.
Louisiana has a wild-fun city, New Orleans.
Louisiana has crazy weather changes.
Louisiana has a great number of illiterate people.
Louisiana has a Mayor problem.
Louisiana has an unsuitable Governor.
I am not trying to discourage you with some of the above characteristics that different people have from all over the USA about Louisiana. My intention is to bring into the light this face to face dialogue I’ve had with people in online chats, e-mails, and articles about this state in which I live. Who can separate the myth from the reality unless we know what is in the minds of those who think about Louisiana?

Finding Friends
It is amazing to know so much about a place, yet it is a bit overwhelming to realize that there is a vast little world embraced somehow with another in online and offline worlds. These two worlds are where many human beings participate in a daily basis, in passive and active forms. Online a person has a marvelous potential for having friends and acquaintances. I have received virtual flowers, post-cards, hugs, kisses, tears, and smiles.

Most of my online friends and acquaintances are from the USA; this is how I have found out about other states’ facts and feelings. To be fair, I have to admit I haven’t encountered many cybers from Louisiana. From time to time I have met online people from Monroe, Louisiana and it certainly brings me joy when I have this delightful opportunity.

Future Perfect
I assume you have some questions:

Do cybers have a life, you know, I mean besides online?
Does an online friendship replace a face to face friendship contact?
Does chatting, e-mailing, talking (Internet microphone talk) mess up someone’s life?
Is the online friendship short or long lasting term relations?
How honest is an online friendship?
Dear reader, I think that my online experience and work might answer all these questions and more. You may have a lot of more questions, and I will answer them all right here in this online magazine, Go Inside, where we have met! Wait for the meat. What you just had was an appetizer.

I thank you from the bottom of my mouse and keyboard for your excellent attention,

María Trigos S. Gilbert

P.S. My personal thanks are directed to David Boles, Sunbeam, and Valomnoy for giving me the opportunity to interact with all of you online in one way of another.