Archive for October, 2009

The Disconnected Life

October 30, 2009

I’ve come to ponder the movement among we Internet savvy and our obsession with online networking. More and more, connecting through the Internet has become a social norm. Venues like Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and other sites have given people access to friends and family and complete strangers all over the globe with a simple click of a button (or touch of the screen for you iPhone people). It is an ever-present obsession, and yes, it is an obsession (one that I readily admit I have fallen prey to – and most likely, if you are reading this, you have, too). I know my examination of this quandary presents nothing new to those of you who were the founding members of MySpace, who have 784 followers on Twitter and 361 friends on Facebook and keep up with your very own swell of blogs. “Duh, like, where have you been?”


Good question; one that I’ve been asking myself a lot lately. I have avidly poured myself into blogging and staying connected online for various reasons (my book, my career, my need to indulge in the latest-and-greatest, juicy gossip, my desire to keep in touch with many near and dear people who live too far away to see/talk to on a regular basis and my acceptance of the fact that sometimes there is just nothing better for an occasional insomniac to do at 3 o’clock in the morning), and anymore, me without my laptop and joe just isn’t me at all. In fact, I practically live to share my latest thoughts with hundreds (or thousands) of other cyber companions. Sometimes I network to entertain, sometimes I do it to pass the time, sometimes it’s the closest thing to connecting with a friend that I can find. THAT’S what got my noggin’ throbbin’. I have friends & family (and a dog), I go out, I meet people – I have a very rich social life, and yet, I find myself entrapped by these online social networks that I have come to know as my own.

“So what?” I easily dismiss. “I have my reasons. I am not OBBSESSED.”

Puleeze! We all know that I am. The Internet has become my adulthood pacifier. I don’t think I could live without it.

Remember that scene in The Truman Show when Truman exits his ready-made life into the real word, and all of his loyal (obsessed) followers cheering him on are suddenly faced with a void they had not known in a long time? It was as if they had all waken from a coma, lost for a moment in their surroundings as if they had never really looked because the whole time they had been living vicariously through Truman. The void Truman’s followers faced was THEIR existence and what it had become (or not become) in the real world while they were busy following Truman on TV.

Will I one day suffer such a rude awakening, too? I’d like to think not.

However, it is a frightening prospect to consider while pondering the scope of what online networking has become; we may be alive; but who of us are really living? Just how deep are some of us sucked in? How many of us have fallen into a make-believe world where our friends are icons on the screen and we laugh alone at jokes and comments that should have been shared over dinner or drinks, but instead are buried as encrypted 1’s and 0’s in the social-cyber web we weave? How many of us turn to the Internet for companionship because we don’t know what else to do with ourselves? How many spend countless hours blogging and tweeting and tagging online each and every day?

I think we are all a little guilty of succumbing to the lure of online networking and the opportunities it doth offer – A chance to reconnect with long lost friends? A chance to lead a double life? A chance to meet people who aren’t privy to the skeletons in our closets? A chance to expose a few skeletons to others who understand? A chance to belong?

Whatever the reason we are initially drawn to join an online network, it seems that more and more, these cyber communities have become a preferred place to exist. It’s convenient, it’s uncommitted, seemingly “safe” and it can even be anonymous if you so choose. Previous college roommates can catch up on old times and soccer mom’s can chat with unregistered sex offenders all in one big, happy network. Shiggle my giggles, it’s GREAT!

Or is it? At what point does the appeal of online networking take priority over everyday interaction with peers? Anymore, it seems people prefer to trade passing smiles with loved ones for typing smiley faces on a monitor and laughing with friends at lunch for “LOL.” So why do we do it? Do we hide behind our online personas because we fear the social stigmas presented by flesh and bone? Are we trying to avoid the ridicule we may face for who we are, what we do, how we dress, what we eat? Do we prefer the abandonment of commitment cyber networks offer, allowing us to “catch up” with people at our leisure over the burden of a real-time friend calling at one in the morning because her boyfriend dumped her and she’s in desperate need of a real shoulder to cry on? Do we prefer the opportunity to make known our thoughts without regard for the consequences our words may befall? Is it a façade we can hide behind when given the opportunity to fabricate a new existence in which everything comes at face value, because no one knows (or cares to know) otherwise?

“The world is your oyster! Its name is Facebook…”

Oh the Web that weaves us!