Friday, December 20, 2013

Life in the Age of the Web

So much of our lives are tied to the internet. I didn't send out many Christmas cards this time around - there are online services for that. I really kind of miss getting some cards in the mail that I can hang around my front door for the season.

This is the age of the internet though. Not surprisingly, I'm finding that a lot of my social esteem now comes from my online social circles. If I don't post on Twitter or Google Plus for a few days, I see a major drop in interactions when I return. This also affects my blog because visitor numbers drop into the canyons.

How does this make me feel? So far, it doesn't really affect my personal feelings, but I can see how it could (and still might).

Will I sign onto Twitter or G+ just to keep people interested in me, in what I have to say? Maybe. Will I do it, no matter how insincere my shared thoughts and opinions are? No.

I wonder how it makes other people feel when they experience this social lag. Does it make them realize how thin and passing an online social life can be?

We really need to make sure that we keep a balance in how much time we spend online and off.
Internet acquaintances are alright, but it's our intimate friendships that need to be nurtured most. Go ahead and fall out sick and see which friends are going to be checking up on you first.

This random line of thought brings another to mind: How many people have just disappeared from their online social circles without anyone wondering what happened to them? I've known a few people who went from super-active online to dead silent. Are they dead? Did something happen to take away their need for interacting online? There's really no way to know without turning into a stalker, is there?

I'm a worrier. When I get to "know" someone online - say on Google or Twitter - and they suddenly stop posting or blogging, I think the worst. I don't for one minute imagine that they are just too busy living an offline life to post their every third thought for me to criticize.

We might all need to take regular breaks from our online lives. I do this about once every couple of months. It's an ordeal. You can almost hear the sucking sound as I pry my brain away from the computer. I always have a little bit of "dry out" fever and I will fidget for a couple hours before I can even get anything useful done.

Everything I do offline is cushioned by the internet. If I clean or do laundry, I need my last.fm for music because I no longer own a radio. When I writing, I need Wikipedia or Google because I have no paper encyclopedias, newspapers or dictionary references. I've given my last TV away to a friend, so I have to go online for my shows and movies.

I was talking to a doctor some time back about my Sarc and the problems it causes me. He approved of the "work-arounds" I've fallen back on: different types of listing and note-taking apps. He doesn't like the idea of calculators being used by the general population though. He feels it causes a loss of basic math skills. He's right. I feel almost the same way about our use of the internet.

When did this start happening to us? How far will it erode our skills? Will children one day not know what it is to hold a book in their hands (maybe with a flashlight under their bed-covers because they just have to know how the chapter ends)? I'm already annoyed that my nieces and nephews actually have never had to leave their seat to change the TV channel. It's not fair. On the other hand, they have been robbed of the joy of decorating their bedroom walls with their favorite album covers.

Don't you ever wish that we could have stopped the progress of the internet at a certain stage? Like, we could have email but only for business reasons. We could keep our social networks, but had to ask someone what an agoraphobic is. I think if we could still have a need for each other - to share mentoring and learning and real communication - we'd be better off. I can't imagine what's going to happen to human relationships if we let things keep going the way they are. On the other hand, I wouldn't have been able to tell you all this without the internet. So... we should keep blogs. Definitely keep blogs. And shopping. I can't take those long store lines...

Peace
--Free

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