My first Internet meet up

Ever get nervous about meeting fellow fans from the Internet?  Ever wonder if the person you’re talking to sitting on the other side of the screen is really who they say they are?  Has this prevented you from going out and meeting fellow fans?  I know I was nervous when I first got online, all you heard on the news was the bad stuff.  I want to share with everyone here, the story of my first online meet up, what lead to me meeting someone from the Internet.

I first got online when the Internet was sort of new to people, in 1995.  There were very few webpages, fan sites were so rare and hard to find.  The main way people met was by emailing lists that you had to dig and find to join up.  There were groups that were just for people on certain Internet providers.  So it was not easy for fans to all get together.  When I first got on in May, there was only one Ninja Turtle webpage and it never got updated.  In September the first Ninja Turtle fan site appeared, which was ninjaturtles dot com.  They had the TMNT-L  mailing list attached to this site. I joined to find only 15 members all of which were really quiet.  In 1995, I founded a channel on IRC, which also sat quiet.

In January 1996, things started to pick up. Mirage Studios took over ninjaturtles dot com, as the webpage that was once there disappeared.  A new member joined TMNT-L, who became our Shredder.  People were starting to talk a little more as the fans were finding the mailing list.  The Internet was becoming my favorite hang out fast.  Though these were all strangers, people who came on to talk about something I enjoyed, they all lived so far away.  Could I ever really meet any of them?

It was around July 1996 when our Raphael joined the list, and Splinter welcomed Raphael with open arms, stating something that took me by surprise.  It went along the lines of this... “Welcome to TMNT-L, there’s not too many of us active here just Shredder, myself and Donatello (which was me), the World’s largest Ninja Turtle fan?”   I personally did not see this email at first, as someone else used the same email account as I did at the house and filed my emails.  What I saw was the replies, where people were challenging me, including the Shredder.

I took this challenge, more on the level of having fun, and threw in something I thought was a fair challenge for people to do.  In September there was to be a membership party at the Words & Pictures Museum in Northampton, MA.  There was a 50/50 chance of Kevin Eastman being at this party.  I challenged the members of TMNT-L to go to the museu, to have a chance to meet one of the creator of the Ninja Turtles.  Even if he didn’t show up, we fans would still get to meet in person.

Almost right after that post, I got a reply from someone new, I later gave this person the Michaelangelo nick on TMNT-L.  She wrote me saying how it was unfair, not everyone had the money or way to travel.  Her argument was true, and from that day on I declared the challenge off.  Though still said if people wanted to meet me, I will be at that party.

One person took me up on meeting at the party, Shredder.  One of my first online friends would be the first person I was to meet off of the Internet.  Knowing that he was going, I gathered up a handful of my rare items including animation cels, toys, posters and my favorite scrap books.  My mom and sister came with me on the trip.  The meeting point for us would be the Words & Pictures Museum so that we were meeting up somewhere public.

Once meeting up with the Shredder, we hung out and talked.  He showed me his art work, I showed him a few things I brought.  He was staying at the same hotel, so we brought him by the room which I had the Turtle stuff all up and around the room on display to show.  It was a good meet up, while he was different than I pictured him from how we talked online.  Over all he was a lot of fun to talk to, a very cool TMNT fan and remains a friend to this day.  He still holds the nick Shredder on the TMNT-L forums, and we’ll see each other at different events.

This was the first of many Internet meet ups.  And through all the meet ups, I’ve met some of my best friends who’ve now been in my life years.  Yes, not all meet ups went as I would of liked, though 9 times out of 10 the people I meet are amazing.

Have you met online friends in person?  If so feel free to share your first online friend meet up in our comme

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