Today a colleague of mine used an abbreviation online that I needed to look up. I never was able to locate it, but while I searched, I found this one:
ly - love you
I wondered aloud on twitter that I'd never encountered this, and this thought caused me to pause to ponder whether expressions of love online are possible. "I've never seen that," is what I heard from most people on twitter, the rest responding with humour.
Online communication, and in particular the kind practiced on irc, is, in my experience, funny, witty, clever, engaging, technical, often childish, and sometimes deeply meaningful; however, I can count on one hand the number of times it has offered a moment in which to express love between friends. I don't mean sexual love, but rather a deep friendship.
Perhaps it's that most relationships one engages in online are not truly deep; perhaps it's that the public nature of the communication precludes certain kinds of more personal engagement; perhaps it's not really possible to express oneself this way online. Whatever is happening, it's interesting to think about online communication tools, what they make available and what they remove from the functioning of friendships online.