Wired World

The internet world is a great place. So much information, so many perspectives, so many groups of people connecting around the globe. Ideas and opinions flow freely and reach the masses. And it’s fast. We don’t have to wait for the daily news anymore. We have immediate and constant access to breaking news over seas and around the world.
Here’s the thing I think we often forget. It’s a world of dots and pixels, zeros and ones. Behind the scenes, at its core it’s robotic, sterile, and cold. The machines whir and buzz and cursors blink dumbly as they await input.
Through myspace, blogger, instant messager, flickr, singles’ communities, podcasts, etc. we try and infuse human aspects and affections into these boxes of modems and wires. We no longer are only members of our tangible environments, we’re members of virtual “online communities.” We don’t just have friends anymore; we have friends and online friends, and in my experience, they rarely cross borders.
Try it sometime. Try conveying a passionate or tearful or tender message through email or instant messager to a friend you’ve only known in the real world. I would bet things won’t turn out as expected. Why? You say to yourself, this person knows me, they understand what I’m all about, they should know what I mean. What we forget is that something like 90% (I believe I’m remembering that correctly) of our communication is not in our words. The people we know intimately have an understanding of our tones of voice, facial expressions, broader body language and so all the communication is seasoned with these various bits that all get stripped and reduced to mere words when we interact through machines.
It’s a cankerous petridish of misunderstanding, hurt feelings, perceived offenses, and bad grammar.
The contrary is true of our online relationships. I have found it overwhelming and over-stimulating to engage with someone in person after interacting with them only remotely. It’s an overload to contend with all their quirks and mannerisms that were blissfully absent in the chat room – or wherever. The realms of text and smiley’s and frownies can be a welcome simplicity to the barrage of inputs from real world connections. The two are interesting foils.
So, well, what to do with this? I don’t know really. I just find it helpful to remember that all the flash, avatars, and “pimp your myspace” designs are smoke and mirrors, pretty packaging for a coded domain of zeros and ones.

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