One of the billions of images out on the internet is a picture of a dog sitting in front of a computer, with the caption “On the internet, nobody knows that you’re a dog.” While there aren’t (I’m assuming) many canines browsing the web, it’s very true that you really don’t know much about the people you’re talking to, other than what they tell you about themselves.
Charmz was a fifteen year old girl from the midwest who quickly became popular in the channel. In addition to being quite outgoing, she was a very pretty girl who had several scanned photos of herself. This was pretty big news back then, as scanners weren’t common, and digital cameras were even less so. Even before she sent me any of the pictures, Charmz and I became good friends, and I found most of my time on IRC divided between her and Asraia.
It was probably a month or two after Charmz had joined #teenflirt that Ficka sent me a concerned private message. The “Real Name” field that showed up when he performed a /whois on her responded with “Nathan”. Additionally in his opinion, the several pictures that she’d sent out were of different (but similar looking girls) based on their completely different hairstyles and hair colors. Naturally, Ficka thought Charmz was a guy, and I believed him.
In a moment of sheer brilliance, I immediately confronted Charmz with these facts and my vast experience of all things internet. I don’t remember the details of what was said, but I do know the resulting fight was epic. Her story was that “Nathan” was her brother, and she used his computer. She dyed her hair whenever she felt like, and sometimes wore glasses although she hated it.
It was a phone call that settled it in the end. A short conversation proved that Charmz was indeed a girl, and I was pretty stupid. Miraculously, we managed to stay friends through all of it. Even today, she likes to remind me from time to time of how I used to think she was a guy.
Charmz and I would continue to talk on the phone quite a bit, resulting in the both of us growing closer, and my almost being murdered on a couple occasions when my father received the phone bill. She would become my best friend, though it would be another two years before we’d meet in person.
As busy and chaotic at times as our lives have gotten, Charmz (who would go on to use the names PassiveLove and finally Synnovea) and I have stayed close. It’s been a couple of years since we’ve been able to meet up in person, but we continue to talk to each other when we can. It’s pretty amazing to consider such friendships being developed and maintained by two people who live hundreds of miles apart.