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Are Friends Electric? (Guest post by Gunwallace)

HippieVan at 12:00AM, April 29, 2016

“Well, are they?”

Gary Numan (and Tubeway Army) posed that question in 1979. These days it has more relevance that ever before.

“It's cold outside, and the paint's peeling offa my walls.”

As winter approaches in the Southern Hemisphere (winter is coming) my thoughts naturally turn a little maudlin. The temperature is dropping. Flu season is approaching. The Dodgers are playing again, but it's Vin Scully's final season commentating, and their bullpen sucks. (Yes, I follow North American sports.)

“Now the light fades out, and I wonder what I'm doing.”

The mornings are lighter, but the evenings are darker. The days seem longer somehow. Lonelier. There's more time to ponder life's imponderables.

“So now I'm alone. Now I can think for myself.”

One of the things that get me though the dark winter is … Drunk Duck. Is that silly? How real are my electric friends? How real am I to them?

“You know I hate to ask, but are ‘friends’ electric?”

If I disappeared tomorrow would anyone care?

For me it's not a light question. I was minutes from death last year. I was in an ambulance with a paramedic trying and failing to get a line into my arm, looking increasingly worried as I faded. When I was wheeled on a gurney into the ER they announced me as a code 2. Code 1 is saved for those basically dead on arrival. And my wife an thought I just had man flu. I didn't feel that sick.

“And I missed you tonight. It must be time to leave. You see it meant everything to me.”

Family got me through. Well, that and expert medical care. All, in all DD was low on the list of things that were important in the hours I was under constant observation in a high risk unit. Yet, a day or so later … I thought of my electric friends. I thought of you all a lot.

This is a wonderful community.

It is more that a collection of comics.

It is more that a collection of comic-making people.

We share intimate bits of our lives with each other. Our jobs. Our musical tastes. The movies and TV shows we watch. Our hopes. Our worries. Our dreams. Our love of late 1970s synthesizer songs.

I know intimate details about the lives of many of you. I know your fears and your dreams. I know your real names.
Yet at the same time there a distance created by the internet. I've had one Facebook friend, a fellow comic creator, die of cancer a couple of years ago. I had never met her. I have no idea what she looked like. I never even bought her comics. Yet I cannot help but think of her from time to time.

I fear our lives are becoming binary. Ones and zeros. Off and on. And I don't want to be off. And I don't want any of you to be off, either. I want us all to remain on.

Are friends electric?

Well, are they?

Thank you so much to Gunwallace for writing this newspost! Not only because it helped to save my sanity this week as I work on the final essay of my degree(!), but because it truly is a lovely piece of writing. :) I hope all you electric pals know how much you mean to me too!

Have a comic milestone, a community project or some comic-related news that you'd like to see here? Do you have original art for our newspost image database? Send it to me via PQ or at hippievannews(at), or leave a comment below!



rmccool at 11:27AM, May 3, 2016

I have a last page comic to be posed if I die.. because a big part of my heart and soul is here inked in one page at a time.. people I love and care about are here. Most of the people I send Christmas and yule cards to are here.. when disaster hit my friends here helped me.. they raised money sent messages and cards.. maybe its because the children of my mind my (characters ) are friends with there characters . my pooka can hug friends I can not.. the ink was real the emotion was real.. even if they are Ai I love them as they are real to me...

Gunwallace at 5:00PM, April 30, 2016

@Bruno Harm : Ouch! I hope everything is okay now?

Bruno Harm at 10:07AM, April 30, 2016

My wife got a Strep infection in her butt muscle that spread to her blood stream and put her in the ICU for a week. They had to surgically cut out some of the infected area. It was truly terrifying. Glad things worked out for you Gun!

Gunwallace at 1:58AM, April 30, 2016

Glad I could start a conversation. Just to clarify ... I had the flu, which became pneumonia, which became septic. My wife and I both thought I had a cold. I really did. Tried to power through it. That didn't work. ended up in hospital. My credit card was stolen there, which was the most long term problem. I'm fine. As a stay-at-home father I find my online friend are often more real to me than actual people I meet in real life. I like the idea of a Skype meet.

Ozoneocean at 1:34AM, April 30, 2016

I think about all the DD people, past and present. They're all real to me, and I've met a few in person, including Ayesinback! I've even been in contact with Skool recently. You know, Ayes Idea of a multi skype meetup sounds really good... It will have to be on a Saturday some time and some of us will have to stay up really late and others will have to get up really early, but it would be amazing :D

ayesinback at 8:39PM, April 29, 2016

Sorry, ashtree. I have a particularly virulent auto-correct on this tablet and I'm really not thinking about smoking. Because smoking is bad. I'm told.

ayesinback at 8:34PM, April 29, 2016

@ashtray, There was"talk" awhile back about having a DD "gathering". You're right, we're all over, but if we had a dozen or 2 meet-ups, roughly simultaneously, what with Skype and all ...

ayesinback at 8:29PM, April 29, 2016

Yes, imo, friends can be electric, although it might require more faith, for lack of a better word, when the relationship is based on written words and the friends can't see the twinkle in the eye, or maybe the shadow below the eye. But even when it's only words, the personalities come through, along with a rich source of various talents and interests. It IS a great community. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and questions, Gunwallace, even though I'm sorry you and your family had such a terrible scare. This place would not be the same without you. And the same is true for so many others.

ashtree house at 4:37PM, April 29, 2016

I often wonder what happens when someone's online presence disappear; I have had many online friends over the years that fade out of my life, I certainly think of them and wish to get back into touch with them somehow. Sometimes I think the worst, like what if they died, would anyone know? I would want someone to update all my websites too, if something happened to me. As for DD, I have only been on the site for a little over the year and have met some amazing people, and I think of them as true friends! I wish sometimes we could all meet up, but we are all over the world T_T

Banes at 4:18PM, April 29, 2016

This site and the people on it have gotten me through some rough, rough times. I have friends here and I would be very sad if something happened to them. A thought provoking essay indeed!

HippieVan at 9:22AM, April 29, 2016

@PaulEberhartd: DD is definitely special in that way! Hmmm, I started writing out a big comment here about why I think that is, but I might actually save it for a future newspost!

Bruno Harm at 8:38AM, April 29, 2016

I am definitely adding a line in my will to notify my online friends when I die. How close can you be to a friend,even in real life? Will the guy you play board games with on weekends be at your side in the hospital? How much do your friends from high school talk to you these days, or see you in person? when I was young, I always wondered why my parents didn't have more friends. Now I'm living hundreds or thousands of miles away from my best friends, and I'm living in a military town full of people That don't stick around long or don't share any of the same interests. I hang out with people because their kid is friends with my kid or our wives are friends, and the people I really connect with seem to be online. So we take what we can get. A blind man can feel the warmth of the sun on his face, let him enjoy it. Don't tell him he's missing a beautiful sunrise.

PaulEberhardt at 8:04AM, April 29, 2016

I never considered even for a moment doing the same on DeviantArt. Enough said!

PaulEberhardt at 8:00AM, April 29, 2016

Sure enough it has a different quality compared with those friends you meet for real every now and then. But I've got a lot of friends (and relatives) that live far apart from me and each other, and keeping up these friendships isn't actually much different from staying in touch with my fellow DDers. // You see, one of the dangers of all that internet stuff, to my mind, is that it's often too easy to forget that there is a real, living person on the oter end of the line (YouTube commenters are a prime example), and that is one thing that makes Drunk Duck stand out: it's impossible to forget it here. No idea why, there probably is more than one reason. At any rate I was genuinely worried when I read about that ambulance experience of yours and I hope they sorted it out for good. When I was in a similar fix myself a couple of years ago, I actually instructed my mother to upload a short note that the next update might take a while.

KimLuster at 4:56AM, April 29, 2016

Very deep!! I shall ponder this all day!! How 'real' is it to have friendships with people you probably won't ever meet for real? Your total experience of them is via the streams of data - the 1s and 0s...!! Does it in any way resemble the love Theodore felt for Samantha (an AI) in the movie 'Her'?

bravo1102 at 2:01AM, April 29, 2016

Thought provoking. Remember that even before the Internet and social media I had phone friends. Rarely saw them just spoke on the phone.

Genejoke at 12:53AM, April 29, 2016

oh hell yeah. With my recent struggles with anxiety and depression I barely left home for months on end. 90% of my contact with other people was via the internet and much of that was with people from this site.

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