Mr. Rodgers used to sing about them, but most of us don't know them anymore. Even though I'm rural and have lived in this area forever, I don't neighbor much, seldom talk to the mailman or go next door to borrow something.

That doesn't mean I don't have connections. The internet, anonymous monster that it can be, is a creator of networks. I "know" people through this medium that I'll never meet. I share ideas with them, tell them about my mood today, and frequently ask for their help and advice. It's the neighborhood of the new millenium.

True, you can't trust everyone you meet, but then I had a weird uncle that my mother warned me to stay out of arm's reach of, too. True, I don't know them well, but how helpful they are when you need something! Recently I asked on a forum for names of certain author types, and I was deluged with suggestions. Yesterday I wrote to my publisher for advice on marketing my book, and within an hour I had an answer from a woman I wouldn't recognize if we passed on the street. She gave me practical suggestions and then told of her recent vacation in the mountains, just as if we were talking over the back fence. Even "real" friends that I don't see often enough keep in touch this way, and it's so much better to post a message and let the other person answer at her convenience rather than worrying about interrupting someone's sleep, meal or work time. Real conversation can't be replaced, but for quick notes and requests for info, the net can't be equaled.

It's kind of weird, kind of cool, and I like it.

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