Thursday, December 18, 2008

Now we connect online... and it's socially acceptable behavior

But, I remember a time, years ago (sometime in the late 90s), when people in my life thought there was something wrong with me for talking to people online.

Now, communicating with people online is ubiquitous.
It's happening everywhere, all the time.
It is how businesses are run, it's how many people socialize and keep abreast of current events.
It's a way people share and commune and express and even create.

The way people can react with such fear and paranoia, with judgment and de-valuation is an interesting phenomenon that seems so common to the history of humanity.

Perhaps when we are ignorant of something, when we don't understand it, and it is strange and new, it can seem scary and threatening, so we react in fear.

I suppose this is why my roommates, family, boyfriend, and others thought that I had a problem, that the people I spoke to online were "not real". Yes, I kid you not, that is a term that was often used regarding the people I interacted with online. They were fake or imaginary.
Are you imaginary? I think you are very real.

This is why it struck me as so bizarre that the people in my life could not imagine another human being sitting at their computer typing back to me. They could not grok that we were talking, interacting, sharing, socializing, and being together through cyberspace.

There was a time when people thought that chatting at work was counterproductive, or "goofing off on the job", and now, how ironic that chat is actually conducive to greater work productivity when people can make a few taps with their fingers and accomplish incredible efficiency in their work. Instead of walking across the department, or flying to another area of the world for a meeting, instant chat is right here, waiting for us to leap into the acceleration of space and time with immediate information and energy exchange.

It's amazing!

I've longed appreciated the paradigmatic change that online socializing represents.
It brings people together who normally would never have met or had anything to do with one another. It's how I met my husband.

It helps bridge barriers to social connections, in that it allows people to overcome or completely bypass any fears based on insecurity about appearance.

Communicating online circumvents any inconvenience based on travel cost and time.

And isn't there something totally disarming and empowering (yes, I use those words together for effect) about sitting at home, free to say and express and share whatever you dare, whatever you deign, whatever you can muster that you might not normally achieve in an in person social setting.

Yes, I think that talking, interacting, and socializing online can help to encourage us to say what we think and feel and mean, to take the time to explore that, and to reach out to people in ways we might not if there were no internet.

And have you noticed that you can sense another person's vibe, mood, quality of being, way of being, personality, energy, essence, while interacting with them online? It's not just dry words on a screen. It's THAT person, and you can feel and experience them as them, and not as filtered through some cold, impersonal mechanism that I hear so many luddites labeling the internet as.

Indeed, I think there is something profoundly "spiritual" about online socializing because it takes away a lot of the physicality and even psychological reference points and allows you to connect, in perhaps a more pure and refined way, with others. Even though you are sitting "alone" at your keyboard and monitor, you are in reality "WITH" the person on the other end of your online interaction, sharing a social engagement that is just as real as meeting for a movie or coffee or a drink.


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