Tuesday, June 02, 2009

get off the internet

I was introduced to someone the other night, someone I'd never to my knowledge met before, and he looked me in the eye and said "Oh, I used to follow you on twitter." (Of course I twitter. Look at how much I write on here. Do you think I'd be able to resist something that allows me to theoretically tell people what I'm doing from my phone? No.) This pretty much annihilated any small talk I'd been about to make. I had no idea how to respond. This stranger was admitting that he'd randomly followed me via an online device where I, when I'm bored at work, text in messages about getting hurt by cacti or the growing habits of tulips. It was weirdly embarrassing, even though he was the one who started things off awkwardly, because I've been thinking a lot about my online presence lately.
Facebook, okcupid, twitter, gmail, statcounter, this blog... My words, my ideas, and sometimes my face or my name are all over the internet. Generally I think this is an okay or maybe even a good thing, but sometimes I wonder: is twitter enriching my life in any way whatsoever? Other than allowing me to spend my boring work time thinking up short phrases about phallic plants or laughing about my boss calling me butch after using a hammer? (Really?) Probably not. Instead, it sometimes gives me a creepy clairvoyance about other people's lives that I try hard to pretend doesn't exist and gives me yet another addictive tendancy to try and avoid. Fun.
So twitter not so much, but facebook? My blog? I worry about letting these public forums overtake the private forum of my journal, which would either mean I'm sharing waaaaaay too much or holding too much inside. But in the end I think that, even though it feels antisocial to spend more time than I should online, some of these interactions serve a purpose. I live alone, but connection is important to me. Even if writing things on the internet sometimes feels like screaming into a void, at least somewhere out there a friend or a random stranger might read what I've written and laugh or think or feel irritated or something. A facebook chat might reveal new layers of a friendship that would be harder to reach in a face-to-face conversation. A gchat might make me cry. All of these things have happened. And I think, really, that can't be too bad.

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