Ramifications of the Technological Revolution
I'm sure there is a node about this elsewhere on E2, but I find this title to fit my subject best.
A Story About Someone Growing Up During This Era
One of the first things I should mention, to emphasize how this affects me, is that I am sixteen years old. I was born during a period when personal computers were just beginning to make an appearance in homes. In kindegarten, they were already taking us to the computer lab on a daily basis to use word processing to write stories. As a six year old, I came home from school and played Monty Python's Flying Circus on my dad's old IBM. At 7, I was learning BASIC. At 10, I was introduced to the Internet. At 11, I was learning Java and Perl, and thinking about C. My dad used the Internet as a babysitter for me. I used the Internet about 7 hours daily, usually neglected my schoolwork to install CGI scripts on my domain, chat on ICQ, and moderate an entire mailing list which received +100 posts daily. While I am not trying to tell you my life story, I'm trying to point out that there was very little social conduct going on in my life that was face to face.
I never wanted friends. I had friends. They had e-mail addresses. I for some reason, felt connected with people online, despite that I really did not know them, but I was secure with thinking that they did. If I was honest with my identity and personality, surely they would be with theirs. Stories of 40-year-old child molesters posing as young children did not bother me. People were there for me.
But as I went through puberty, I became more and more reclusive. While my classmates interacted with one another through clubs, sports, parties, and jobs, I passively sat on the schoolbus every afternoon thinking about what I might say to the BBB clan (a group on AOL) this afternoon. When my dad's girlfriend moved in with her family, they had a way of accusing me of being a net addict. They didn't have computers. They were morons, granted, but they knew something was wrong with me. I denied it. I had friends, plenty of friends.
That was 3 years ago. Now I'm halfway through my junior year in high school. People like me, but I'm still reclusive.
Friends I have made are now getting into the whole technological revolution. I don't see my friends anymore. Why? Can you guess where they are? They're at home, behind the computer.
"Hello?" "Hi." "I was about to sign on. You can talk to me online.": Everyone is connected
It bothers me a great deal that now that I'm almost grown up, I'm leaving it as they're just getting into it. Calling friends up will generally get me this response: "Well I was about to sign on to the Internet. I can talk to you on there." I want to respond by saying, "But why can't you talk to me here? Is something wrong with your phone? Perhaps we could meet in person and talk." But I don't ever say that. People don't seem to understand why I object to talking to them online. Is a society so viciously addicted to the fact that now that we have a parallel technological society, we can very easily abandon a real world for a world where it is possible to multi-task: talking to 5 different people while typing an e-mail. Expressing your deeper emotions simply because the other person can't look you in the eye.
Why is it that I'm the only person that sees something wrong about this? I had a horrible relationship online that can be read about in Internet Relationship. I have had bad grades upon more bad grades because of my neglect of schoolwork due to internet-related matters. While I am very knowledgable about computers and I have wanted to be a Computer Science major since I was in the 6th grade, I can't really expect myself to ever fulfill that position now with this epiphany I have just had last night.
An Easy Way Out
People will take things online for the accesibility of a way out. If I don't like talking to someone, it would be more difficult to get rid of them in person or on the telephone. While the telephone is a form of technology, it predates the recent form that I am talking about.
If someone on AIM or ICQ IMs you, it is very easy to block them or ignore them. With a telephone, it would require hanging up, and in person, it is virtually impossible.
Why are people so smug with their online personalities? Is it that they can still maintain a good reputation whilst ignoring half of the people that they are "talking" to?
I am aware of voice chat programs and video chat, but not as many people use these as instant messaging software. People exploit their tones online. They are certain that the other person will read it just as they have said it. Hundreds of misunderstandings occur this way.
I have this problem with my boyfriend. While offline, we rarely have arguments. However, lately, we seem to have arguments daily on the internet. It usually starts because of the tone in which I am speaking.. which does transfer over the internet it appears. Luckily, we are both resilient on these terms of arguments and they don't affect us too much.
From the last paragraph, you would probably believe that my boyfriend and I avoid speaking online. However we rarely talk on the phone. We see each other in school daily. We talk online for maybe 3 hours every day. Having a relationship on the internet is like reading the script to a movie but not watching it. Use of your senses really isn't required. While yes, hopefully it is his mind that I like more over anything else, I also like his voice and I like to see him as well. The Internet is not a good place for relationships, as quick and easy as it may be to allow for it to happen.
Leaving Technology Behind
A modest proposal, but an ignorant one. If you have ever seen Serial Experiments Lain, you will quickly realize that in a world where everyone else is connected, you can be left behind if you're not. Leaving technology behind is not capable. This is why you hear about people going camping with portable televisions and cellular phones. Is it necessary? No. But can we be left behind in evolution while we are hidden in the woods? Of course we could, but would we allow for it?