In what is now now known as Real Life, I have a decent sample of terrific good friends. The people who help you move, whinge at you and get whingeing in return, feed your pets when you end up in the hospital unexpectedly, and whose children, parents, and jobs you actually don’t mind hearing about. You get the idea. You probably have them too. I hope so.

The problem is, most of these people live far away, fallout from the modern American Diaspora.

Thus, my daughter worries about my general lack of play dates. She is ecstatic that I am in my church choir (which is a largish group of 45 or so people who all get along very well), and firmly encourages me to go do tech theatre stuff with the people I’ve done it with in the past. She’s started hinting that I should go out there and find somebody to date.

And in return, I’ve picked on her and fretted because something like 75% of her own social life has been spent online.  Night after night, she would sit there with several chat windows open, some of them multichats. I slept over at people’s houses in high school, and actually did things like go to the beach and on picnics and smoked pot and went to movies and so on. Thus I found this somewhat disturbing.

Then at some point in the last couple of months, I meandered back to my Facebook account. I really don’t recall what sparked this. By now, I have friended a guy solely because he was mutual friends with two people from very different ends of my social spectrum; and another because we were introduced by a mutual friend upon whom we were co-commenting. And then the Facebook games. At first, I thought of the idea of having friends who were not, you know, friends was kind of weird, but it quickly became apparent that these games worked better that way. So I did as recommended, and shyly poked a bunch of total strangers, and the next thing I knew, there were 40 more people on my friend list.

And then an enterprising high school classmate tracked me down; and I’m now friends with the coolest girl in my homeroom. (Apparently she admired my wacky dweebiness too. Who knew?)

When my ex-husband showed up as playing one of these things, I was floored, as he more or less isn’t the type to get into something like that. But now we send each other little virtual gifts every day.

Now the cool things are happening:  I’m becoming Real friends with some of those random gameplaying women. (And silently unfriended one, when I read her info and discovered that she hated “liars and mexicans.”) And those videos on TouTube are usually pretty nifty.

My daughter now makes fun of me about the amount of time I spend hanging out with this stuff, but has slowed down somewhat since getting me into her favorite dumb little game.

In short, I now have . . . a life. I interact with other people; I hear about their days, worry about their kids’ serious illnesses, and touch virtual hands with people in England and Germany. It still seems a little odd to me.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to recall my godson’s mom from cleaning the john in my restaurant, harvest my crops and obsess over my flower beds–

–and feed my own (and other people’s) virtual pets. See ya!

(*pst!* Wanna join my mafia?)