The problem of how we interact online has been bothering me for some time recently, and I can see that it has even worked its way into other nodes.

I may not post on Everything2 as much as some of the other users, but I do spend a significant amount of time reading other nodes. Much of my usual three to five hours online a day are spent on this very site. In that time I have come to feel as though I know some of you, but it is the reality of this situation that bothers me. Despite the fact that I am reading the thoughts of other people I find myself consistently wondering whether or not this can really be considered "knowing" someone. Communication of ideas is extremely important, but there is so much that can only be learned about other people through small, physical interactions that it almost seems unreal. Conversations in a chat box do not allow for the spontaneous changes of topic or the telling hints inherent in a smile. Whole dimensions of a person are lost when we rely on the cold artifice of the computer. Remaining locked in the solitude of our own homes how are we relating to one another?

For example, I visit a certain person's online journal nearly every day and am privy to her thoughts and insights without ever actually being in contact with this person. Through her words I feel as though I have gained some knowledge of who she is and what is important to her. Still, though, how much of a relationship can there be when my presence is not even known? Isn't a relationship of some kind necessary to know someone? Another one of the negative aspects of this sort of interaction relates to what is actually being communicated. Are we, the readers, being allowed to see truth, or are we merely being presented with facades? I think it is a little of both. How about you?

Despite the apparent cynicism of these ramblings I do remain optimistic about the Internet, and about Everything2 in particular. Hopefully in time I will come to acquire fuller knowledge of some of the people here and become more secure in my perception of reality. Now the only problem to be solved is how to achieve this goal.

I see communication is a layered function.

You may read my words and I have communicated my thoughts.

You may listen to a recording of my voice and I have communicated my thoughts and the emotion of my voice.

You may watch me in a video recording and I have communicated my thoughts, and the emotion of my voice and facial expression.

You may watch me give a speech and I have communicated my thoughts, the emotion of my voice and face, and you have seen my body language.

Or, we may sit and talk together, each sharing the full range of experience, interacting and reacting to each other.

Simply reading a journal would be most like the first option, you have learned some things but are far removed.

Everything2 (and other forms of net communication) attempt to bridge the gaps - there is interaction as in the deepest layer, but it remains removed as in the upper layer.

All men by nature desire to know. An indication of this is the delight we take in our senses; for even apart from their usefulness they are loved for themselves; and above all others the sense of sight. For not only with a view to action, but even when we are not going to do anything, we prefer seeing (one might say) to everything else. The reason is that this, most of all the senses, makes us know and brings to light many differences between things.

Aristotle Metaphysics Book I. Chapter 1. Opening lines

It is the desire to know that sets us as humans apart from the animals. The quest for more than basic food and survival is what makes us human. While it is true that some animals are intelligent and can learn things, they do not have an overwhelming desire to learn new things. Nor do animals make any attempt to express what they do learn which in humans takes the form of art

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