Someone gets it!

Some youth rethink online communications:
"Across campus, journalism professor Michael Bugeja -- long an advocate of face-to-face communication -- read Henderson's column and saw it as a 'ray of hope.' It's one of a few signs, he says, that some members of the tech generation are starting to see the value of quality face time.

As the novelty of their wired lives wears off, they're also are getting more sophisticated about the way they use such tools as social networking and text and instant messaging -- not just constantly using them because they're there."
Isn't that great news? To read that someone realizes that " a lot of the online friends he accumulated were really just acquaintances." How many young people today realize that? These on-line buddies aren't people that you can call at 2am because you've been in an accident and need someone to come to the hospital: real life friends are. Yes, you can "share" things with them that you might otherwise not tell people, but so what? Will they really be there when you need them? No. Because if you're not connected, they're not there.

I hope more people consider the complexities of virtual lives, and question whether life isn't better lived in person.

ETA: Two others that get it - WorkBook: "I'm working on learning to rely more on phone and in-person conversations."
And Edith.


Sherri said...

A virtual life is only one more part of a full life, not a replacement for a full life. Used properly and kept in perspective, it can greatly enhance one's life to have communication and contact with people one would otherwise never be able to physically reach.

However, it is just as common (and easy) to have "fake" friends and vague acquaintances offline as on. It's just much easier to see it online, and much easier to drop them.

camillofan said...

I don't think that true friendship is impossible online; only that the word "friend" has been cheapened in the online context, what with IM programs and virtual communities preferring the word as a label for one's lists of frequent contacts.

I have true friends among my many friendly cyber-acquaintances, but they are few-- as are true friendships in any setting.

Lazygal said...

Cam, I would add that the "true friends" that I have in cyberspace are also true friends in real life. As close as I feel to some of the people I've met on-line, they really aren't "friends" in the real sense of the word, they're close acquaintences.

Sherri, you're right that in either space you can have fake friends and acquaintences. But real friends? I think what people confuse with friendship is the ease of letting it all hang out without the risk of seeing the person's face/hearing their voice. Perhaps that makes one a confidant, but not a friend.

camillofan said...

If I'm going to be super-stingy with the word "friend," and save it for only the true kindred spirits-- people who see the same truth, who "get" me as I "get" them, who are invested in my well-being as I am in theirs, whose existence makes a profound difference in my world, etc.-- then I'd say I have about 10 true friends. My husband, my mother, my sister, my best friend from college, two women from church, and two online friends spring immediately to mind. On top of that, I feel that I want to include one work friend and another old college friend, but I'm not certain whether it would be stretching: they are very important to me, but I am less confident of my standing with them.

I don't distinguish the cyber friends from the others except by way of identification, in the same way that I refer to "church friends" or "college friends."

Ten's not very many, but along with them I have a fair number of friendly acquaintances (these are the people I see more often, in fact), so I get by.