Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Just when you think you know someone

Have you ever started reading a blog written by someone you know in real life? Sometimes it's weird, especially when it's someone who you thought you knew pretty well, until their blog provides you with a hefty dose of cognitive dissonance. I thought I knew a particular person pretty well, they've been in my life since my undergrad days and I see/talk to them on a regular basis. They went and started a blog a little while ago, and my perception of them has completely changed. Every time a new post appears I discover a little piece about them that I didn't know existed.

It's interesting, but kind of sad at the same time - hard evidence that we don't always know people as well as we think they do, and that maybe we all feel as though we have to hide behind masks at times. I guess that's one benefit of the interwebs - it gives us a place where we feel anonymous. Everyone can find an online niche.

I had a conversation with some individuals a generation ahead of me - they were lamenting the fact that no one communicates through hand-written notes anymore and it's all about IMing, emailing, and texting. Not only that, but OMG! People are making FRIENDS on the interwebs! People are becoming friends with people they've NEVER. EVEN. MET. What is this world coming to? Dogs and cats, living together?

It got me thinking - I'm not big on letter writing or phone conversations. I always feel awkward on the phone, especially when you start running out of things to talk about and then end up with those long pauses. I much prefer email and IM. I belong to a few online communities, too. In fact, when I really stop and think about it, a large percentage of the people I count as "friends" are people I've met through these communities. I've been lucky enough to find a wonderful group of local ladies, and we get together for playdates and gossip. I think the interwebs are a wonderful place for social introverts like myself, who don't do well in crowds and have difficulty making friends. A text-based screen gives us the chance to let our guard down without most of the social awkwardness. When you finally get together in person you already know each other, so there's none of that "will they like me" stress. I think that the interwebs help people make friends, and help people to communicate, regardless of what the older generation says about the "degradation of today's youth."

Of course, that's not to say that I want Charlie v2.0 to spend hours playing WOW a few years down the road. There are happy mediums everywhere.

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