Sometimes talking to a stranger on the Internet can bring about very good things. But please, if you choose to talk to or meet people you don’t know, be safe, smart and careful. Now that my plug for Internet safety is in place, I will tell you my very exciting Internet connection story and the stranger who found my blog and contacted me.
When you think about it, the Internet is a really cool place…or thing (however you want to phrase it. There are so many things that you can do that I’m sure people years ago never imagined. From watching videos and listening to music, to online dating and more, the Internet has opened up worlds of opportunities for us.
I use the Internet for research, to stay connected to friends and family, to make plans and document events and adventures. I started blogging about two-and-a-half years ago after I served on a sequestered jury for a major local trial. I kept notes and a handwritten journal during the jury selection process and the trial. After I was released from sequestration, I decided to turn it into a blog. I had so many people asking me about the experience simply because of the high-profile nature of the case and because not many people have the opportunity to serve on a sequestered jury. Friends and family alike wanted to know all about the experience. And so, I did some editing, some additional research and writing and posted about a different day of the trial or trial-related topic until I had covered the entire expanse of the experience. If you’d like to check out that blog, click here.
But, I digress. Back to why the Internet is awesome. The Internet is awesome because it allows people to connect from all over the country and all over the world. A few weeks ago, I received a tweet from a fellow writer. I have never spoken to him before and had no idea who he was. He had found my jury blog and said that he really liked it and asked if I would answer more questions. I said sure. He sent me his email address.
Before emailing him, I did a little digging. His Twitter profile said that he was a former script writer for Law and Order SVU and Fairly Legal. His Twitter handle and his e-mail matched and were his name. I also googled Law and Order SVU and brought up their IMDB page, scrolled down and looked at the list of writers. There again was the name, listed as one of the writers for the show and which matched the e-mail address and Twitter handle. This is as far as I really can go to checking up on things and making sure they are safe and not shady. So, I decided to e-mail him. I was intrigued by the fact that he was a writer for these shows and I was curious to know what he was looking for.
When he e-mailed me back, he explained that he was working on a pilot script and was interviewing former jurors from around the country and he wanted to know more about my experience as a sequestered juror. He wanted to know what my relationships were like with the other jurors and what daily life was like outside of the courtroom during the time that we were sequestered. He said that he couldn’t offer me any credit because there was nothing to offer and that he understood as a fellow writer if that made me uncomfortable. I thought things over and decided to talk with him and answer his questions. I also asked him if he would mind if I asked him some writing questions. I always love connecting with fellow writers and I take every opportunity that presents itself to mingle with them and to learn from them.
One of the major influences for me was my own little Internet connection story. A couple of years ago, I was working on research for a story that I wanted to write and a friend suggested contacting this professor of Sexuality and the Ancient World at the University of Kansas. The professor had no idea who I was or anything. I explained what I was working on and asked him a few questions. He wrote me back a lengthy message and sent a PDF of his book for free. I was so surprised by this act of goodwill. His information really aided my research. And I knew that I needed to pay it forward when I received the messages from the script writer.
I gave him my phone number and we agreed to talk last week. I truly had no idea what to expect. But when my phone rang last Wednesday evening, I ended up meeting a fellow writer and friend. He asked me a lot of questions about the experience and was really kind and genuinely curious about my jury experience. He told me about his project and about his experiences working in television. Then he patiently answered my questions. As we talked, our conversation meandered to the various villain stories that exist in film and literature and we talked about the concept of the villain in general too. We had a hearty debate about Shakespeare which left me pining for my former days as an academic. It was, in a word, awesome! The conversation also restored my faith in the television and Hollywood world. So many times people in that industry make alterations to significant traditions and stories that I find disheartening. But this guy was smart and he knew his stuff. And he knew how to determine what was worthwhile and what was not. And I love the idea that a script writer knows his Shakespeare.
Without the Internet, it would have been almost impossible for him to have found me. There would have been no blog about my experience to find. The only opportunity would have been if he had weeded through all the public files. But this guy is in LA. It’s unlikely that he would have looked through public records of trials in Kansas City or that he would have thought to try to contact me of all the hundreds of thousands of jurors he could have chosen. I doubt the files would have much information about who I am and the like. And so, thank to technology, I met a friend who lives half way across the country and connected to a person who has a lot of experience in a field that parallels my own aspirations. Chance is a crazy thing and the Internet is pretty awesome!