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IRC stands for “Internet Relay Chat”. The simplest way to describe it is the soundless, text-based version of visiting a club. You type a line, press enter, and the others watching the screen reciprocate and respond.

I have been a chatter since 1997, when I first started my IT diploma in Technicon. One of my fellow students introduced me to chat and I never looked back.

What attracted me was the fact that nobody could see my wheelchair. The chatters got to know my personality first before seeing what I looked like. That is, unless I decided to share a picture. In the beginning, I got  lot of insults, asking if I was an old granny, which hurt a lot.

But I made a lot of friends too. And I learned a lot about myself and was able to become comfortable with who I was and the things that interested me. Some of my interests are a little different, but I was able to find like-minded people and learn from the experiences of interacting with them.

Some friendships have been brief and fleeting, while others have stood the test of time. I met my best friend in a chat room and am glad to say that twelve years later, I finally met her face to face.

I met my now ex-husband online too. It was a long friendship, from which I also learned a lot.

Moving into a new phase of my life, I am still learning a lot from being on IRC. What I am now discovering is that I can be promised the world. Yet, I don’t see an inch of it. Friends say they will visit and I don’t see them. Not being able to drive does have its limitations.

I have had this feeling before and it’s returning again. Where the circles I frequent are not quite the ones I should be in. Like I am a moon orbiting the planet. Drifting along on the outer edges.

For now, I am happy to leave it as it is, but I hope to meet some true friends soon.

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