My mother has lost all respect for me. Her otherwise intelligent, logical, successful daughter has joined the internet social-networking cult.
That’s what it is after all, right? A group of swindlers who hide behind friendly personas, just waiting for the chance to harm you? Sex offenders… thieves… mass serial killers…
Which one are you?
While I’ve always felt a bit like the “odd girl out,” I’m really not stupid. And I’m not crazy. (Well, maybe just a little bit crazy.) I use discretion when I’m communicating with people on the net. I realize there is a chance I could be targeted by a not-so-nice person; however, that can happen at the office as well.
Anyway… back to my mother…
Aside from believing that people on the internet are evil, she also thinks they aren’t real… like the computer is just an imaginary playground with a million virtual friends. I know other people who think the same thing. I can see the look of pity and concern on their faces whenever I speak of an “online friend,” as though these relationships could never ever be taken as seriously as flesh-and-blood connections.
Even some of my online friends will distinguish between online and “real life.” That confuses me. I thought this was my real life. Did I miss something?
It’s true that on sites like Stumble Upon, we can choose to be whomever we like. We can pick a photo to match the personality we want to portray, and we can set up our blogs to reflect that. We can email unsuspecting people and even “talk” like someone we are not.
But don’t we do that offline, too? Don’t you know people who present themselves as a particular personality – complete with the appropriate attire, manners, and language – only to discover later that they are not at all who they claim to be? It happens.
I find that online social networking exercises my gut. Spiritual crunches, if you will. Every time I meet someone new, I have to gather my senses together and decide how it all “feels” to me. Sometimes I make a snap judgment that later turns out to be incorrect, as was the case with my now dear friend, Paul. It can work the other way, also, when a “friend” turns out to have “issues,” like the big drama a couple of months ago on my SU blog.
But most of the time, I meet real people. Real people with real thoughts and feelings and skin, (and worrying mothers) just like me. The first five senses are stifled… I can’t see them, except through their blogs. I can’t hear them, except through their writing. I can’t touch them. I can’t taste (do we use that sense when meeting people?) And (maybe thankfully), I can’t smell them. So I’m forced to rely on that sixth sense – my gut.
I believe the majority of my online friends are more authentic than most of my offline acquaintances. There is nothing imaginary about them.
Sorry, Mom. Friends are friends. I’ll take as many as I can get. Online… offline… in line… out-of-line… just don’t feed me a cheesy line…