Friday, October 16, 2009


In an age constant connection with one another, with the internet, telephone, instant chat. iPhones, email, twitter, etc. one could easily think that we've conquered isolation; the feeling of aloneness. I think that we as people really crave connection, and the internet provides connection instantly, and is always available.

I wonder if it's easier to be more open online. To me, time feels different. It's less defined; more easy to connect, and yet, not sure the connection is truly fulfilling, but isn't that the way it is in "real life" relationships as well as online? I suppose there are both good things and bad to both types of community.

Yet it's still so easy to feel alone and at times I wonder if the medium of the internet helps or hinders connection; or does it do neither? Perhaps it's just a tool and the real factor is the individual using it and their attitude?

I love Facebook and twitter and all that. I truly do love the internet. I feel it is easier to explore my thoughts and to express my feelings, but at times I really see it's shortcomings. It's too easy to just walk away from relationships that one forms that are primarily online, but that doesn't negate the quality or depth of the relationships. I truly think that online relationships are capable of true community; I just see it's limitations. But aren't there limitations in "real" relationships as well?

I'm connected to many; those that I've only met online, those that I haven't seen in 20 years, relatives I somehow never find the time to call or spend time with, friends from church, my kid's school, so many people. I think it's odd sometimes that in conversation people already "know" what's up in my life due to my tweets or facebook status. In some ways, it's great; it gives an instant rapport of what's been happening in my life and theirs. I find that good and yet.... does it eliminate the need to say much to someone? To feel connected to them without expressing that you care? Without them really knowing that you care? So how is that effective communication and authentic connection?

I think it's quite possible to feel more isolated and alone; to feel more disconnected from friends and society. I know for me it's so easy. I think that's the problem: Do things truly mean as much to each other since it's so effortless? Like birthdays. I don't really need to remember to send a card to a person in advance; first of all I'll get an email reminder to alert me that it's their birthday. Second I no longer have to go out, peruse the Hallmark section of a store, pick out a card and address and stamp it a day or 2 before the birthday. Nope. All I have to do is wait to the day of the birthday and send a quick Facebook message or tweet, or if I REALLY care I'll even send them an e-card. But again, it's effortless and in some ways, nearly thoughtless. I wonder if convenience has cheapened community?

Finally, my last thought to the mystery of feeling isolated despite being surrounded by people is the very fact that so often people plan things and post them on Facebook. Invitations to parties; plans or dinner. Instant connection but does that also equate to instant isolation to those that are left out? Can it be another reminder that despite the hundred plus people one has on their Facebook "friends" list, the truth is we are still just as isolated? That cliques still exist?

I'm not saying it's wrong; it's just who we are: we connect more easily with people with common interests, but it has never been so plainly stated as it is on sites like Facebook. For those that feel a bit isolated or "out" and not quite accepted I wonder if it hurts more to see the photos of friend's birthday celebrations that they were not invited to despite the fact that other close friends were? To see photos of friends laughing at the pumpkin patch yet no invitation was extended to you? I know; that's just life, and truthfully I have little problem with it; but sometimes I just wonder if this medium of the internet that keeps us connected with one another and closer than we've eve been at times does a disservice?

I'm the type of person that loves being inclusive. I am the type that will invite the whole class to my child's birthday party because I don't want to leave anyone out. Yes, there are people that I "connect" with more easily but even among those I don't, I see the value and the beauty in them. In fact, I at times seem to learn more from them than I do someone that I'm more comfortable with. I know I'm rambling; but it's a mystery to me I've not figured out: What to share online? What creates community and what creates division? I love the idea of "sharing life" with others; attempting to be open and transparent but is this medium of communication one that truly brings people together? Or makes us feel like we're in high school again? Going through a yearbook and being reminded of life that others are living and one that you're not included in?

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