Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Starving in a Rain Forest

First it was ICQ.  Then it was Messenger and Skype.  Then it was blogging.  Next came the chat windows in the blogs.  After that came MySpace and finally Facebook.  What have they all had in common?  They've opened me...and made me the world.  They have brought me a Society and made me a part of it.

I can't help but wonder what my life would have been like if I'd never tried ICQ and its Random Chat feature.  Before I got married, it was not uncommon for me to spend entire weekends in my home studio like a secluded ascetic happily cranking out tunes.  Marriage made me a bit less inclined to be a hermit, but I was still content with little company.  My creative projects still far outweighed my meager trickle of a social life.  ICQ changed that.  While the majority of my random chat "blips" came from people I never heard from again (or who were only there to push their webcam sites), I was lucky enough to form some important friendships.  Some of those are still very much part of my life many years after I finally ditched ICQ for good.

I never got all that far with Messenger, Skype, or MySpace, but Facebook has had an even more profound impact on my life.  Aside from the fact that it has reunited me with all kinds of long-lost friends going clear back to my kindergarten days, Facebook has also gotten me acquainted with all kinds of people, either as friends of friends, people checking me out based on my comments, or as the phenomenon known as the "game friend".  All those network games I used to play introduced me to the tradition of adding people as "friends" virtually at random so as to give me more troops in the game sphere.  Most were people I never had anything to do with, and they promptly vanished when I finally gave up online gaming last year.  However, my tendency to comment on anything in my feed that catches my eye has gotten me acquainted with some truly wonderful people...maybe even some true kindred spirits.

But, as they say, therein lies the rub.  I would rather be at my computer than out socializing.  At the same time, however, my computer keeps making me feel frustrated;  It's simply because my online friends are tied up in their own stuff most of the time and don't communicate with me.  I have found myself spending hours doing almost nothing but stare at Facebook (and especially that "online" list) hoping that at least one of my friends will come online.   Make no mistake; I still value my privacy very much.  At the same time, however, now that I've become accustomed to - and maybe even dependent on - my online friends' company, I find myself feeling lonely and desolate in its absence.  Consciously or not, I've come to long for that sense of fellowship...even if it means I wind up not getting anything done.


  • You and I are interestingly alike and opposite in this way. I enjoy being alone but I don't enjoy spending time on the computer at all. I want to spend time on the computer because it is how others connect, especially over the miles. I would far rather sit under a tree and philosophize and laugh with a good friend, however far away it seems that I could actually HAVE that experience.

    So I often feel my online friends are frustrated with me because I'm less apt to be on the computer. One of the reasons I am looking for ways to have online presence that don't feel difficult or frustrating, as FB is, for me, by and large, more problematic than enjoyable.

    I appreciate that you shared these feelings and this insight. Points that I will continue to ponder and consider, to be sure.

    By Blogger JennyBird, at 4:40 AM  

  • It used to be that I would far rather sit under a tree and philosophize (or compose symphonies in my head) than anything else. Strange that the urge to communicate with people who are important to me has become so strong recently...not to mention the fact that the actual lack of communication that is the reality of Facebook (i.e. the possibility is there, but not the actuality) has come to be so frustrating.

    But for a number of reasons I sense that this is becoming another period of strange developments like 1999 - 2001 was. I'm seeing a number of parallels, though not quite as extreme. For one thing, I'm not having prophetic dreams like I did back then (at least not yet).

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 10:41 PM  

  • Feedback definitely provides and emotional lift and Facebook provides many times more lift (and much less heat) than blogging ever did. However, I have come to find that I traded a deep pond for an ocean that is sometimes three inches deep (not always, but sometimes).

    I find privacy to be important but the culture itself has already let that horse out of the barn so I just grin and bear the tradeoff.

    Finding old friends has been great along with more casual acquaintances. Hooking up with family is both great and restrictive in that there are minefields of interactions to avoid (not everyone gets along).

    I use Adium (similar to Trillian and Pidgin) IM to communicate with all the chat folks I want to. 90% of the time, it is co-workers.

    I hope you weather this part of the swinging pendulum well.

    By Blogger Don Snabulus, at 12:15 PM  

  • A case of so many channels, so little communication? Like you, I too prefer the computer than actual socializing.

    How are you, Moody? It's been a while.

    By Blogger HappySurfer, at 3:18 PM  

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