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Used to describe any situation which an observer feels themselves outside of, either physically or mentally. Usually a person in the same social group who feels left out, but can include the casual observer. This expression is reaching a new meaning -- for me at least -- with the phenomena of the webcam.

When Ryan introduced his webcam, it just showed him. All of the background was, to me, unrecognizable and blurry. I would watch him sometimes at his computer, but just him. It felt weird, knowing how far away we are and that he was not similarly aware of me.

Now I have been there. I know the room in which the webcam dwells. I spent hours at his computer during my visit. I remember opening and closing the window blinds by his chair. I remember the clutter. I remember the childish wallpaper border. But most of all, I remember the people.

He tilted his webcam so it would show the whole room. I can see Lillis and Tabor at their computers, and in the next frame Lillis in Tabor's lap. Now they have friends over. There's Carlson, laughing. Maybe he's telling one of his stories. There's Bedrick, who was so nice to me when I was there, trying to include me in the conversation. Entrancing people that I came to love because I can love so easily sometimes.

Other people I recognize, but am unsure of their names. They walk around the room, sometimes gathering around a computer screen, sometimes around a person. Sometimes they all seem to be sitting there, doing their own separate things. Expressions range from serious and interested to vastly amused. Some people leave, and others enter. Frame by frame I view a world.

I am so far away, but I am looking through a window like Harriet the Spy. I am watching television with the sound turned off. The world I see is a world I wanted to be a part of, a world I touched, however briefly. But it is a world apart, and I am on the outside looking in.

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