I’ve been spending a lot of time on the internet. I’m sure that’s kind of a “duh” statement. At this point in post-modern Western society, pretty much everyone spends a lot of time on the internet. It’s kind of the thing.
Sometimes though, I’ll close my laptop and realize how tense and sad I feel. Or, not sad, exactly but a feeling akin to that. Down. Is it the websites I tend to read? Most of them are political in nature and produce lots of content and critique about things I’m passionate about-LGBT Equity, Women’s Rights, Economic Disparity, Gender Norms. Light reading, yes?
And Facebook, of course. Cannot forget Facebook.
I can see the good work the writers and activists on those sites are doing, site like Pandagon, Daily Kos, Burnt Orange Report, Bilerico and so forth. I’ve also seen the power of Twitter and FB during elections in Iran, here in the US right now in Occupy Wall Street, and in helping during natural disasters. The internet, it works.
Or maybe it’s all the comments. There is a LOT of argumentin’ up in there on those comment threads.
I also write on the internet. And I get a lot of my inspiration for writing and reaching out technologically from reading other writers (who are online). So, why does it feel hard to stay connected? Why do I feel lonelier after participating in a long online discussion?
Because it’s wires? Because it’s a weird mental virtual world created, well, mentally while I’m sitting at a desk all hunched over? Because the minute you shut the laptop, poof! It’s like people disappeared. Even though you know they are there (if you know them in “meatspace” then it feels much more real). Because I’m an extrovert and I love talking to people in real life?
I do think that real time real space encounters give you a hundred times the information that online ones do-tone, smell, sight all that. Senses work fast, probably faster than wires. Dialogue is much easier to achieve in real time. Accountability is much more immediate in a real space conversation. People in comment wars flounce off all the time.
Plus, protests in real space, the sweat, blood, arrests and people…that matters as much or more as the tweeting about it. That kind of accountability is important.
I’m not sure how to manage the experience, because I”m pretty sure I’m gonna be online all the time. And I will be writing on line. But I’m in real space and I don’t want to forget how powerful that place and how we really can’t live without it. Not yet, at least.
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