Sunday, April 10, 2011

Life and Connections in the Digital Age

My internet has been acting pretty wonky lately. It’ll spend hours flickering in and out, active one minute only to die in the next. It’s incredibly frustrating. More so than it should be.

Maybe I’m just a product of my generation or something, but I hate being disconnected when I’m supposed to be connected.

See, there are lots of times when I disconnect myself from the internet. That’s when I leave the apartment and go to the grocery store, or walk down to the mall, or drive to the university campus and play mahjong with my friends until the wee hours of the morning. I don’t mind being disconnected then, because I have people to talk to right there with me.

But I, like most writers, also live a pretty solitary life. My average day consists mostly of me writing stuff in my room and talking to my cat. Note that I say “to” instead of “with” because cats cannot talk back, and herein lies the problem.

When I’m at home, the internet keeps me connected. It’s how I talk to my friends, check the news, and generally keep up-to-date with the world beyond my little writer’s corner.

So when it suddenly stops working, I get antsy, to say the least. It’s like standing in the middle of a room filled with friends, closing your eyes, and then opening them again to find that everyone is gone. It’s lonely.

I’ve heard people – mostly in my mother’s generation – who go on about how the internet is limiting peoples’ ability to connect to one another. I don’t think that’s entirely true. Yeah, social networking is kind of shallow BS, but then networking in general is kind of shallow BS. Those aren’t real connections, not the emotional sort that people need.

But there are still people that you make emotional connections with, people you know IRL or people you met by accident online, people who matter to you. And with those people, I think the internet actually strengths connections, to the point that it’s difficult to function without those connections.

After all, humans are social creatures. We’ve always depended on each other. Nowadays, it just means that we depend on each other all the time.

I may occasionally crack jokes about being a recluse or a hikkomori or an anti-social weirdo; but that doesn’t mean I don’t need people. It’s just that I’m used to having them around in different ways. And when they’re not around, for whatever reason…I get lonely.

All this just occurred to me last night. I’m having some trouble putting it into words. Part of me feels like this explains a lot about my generation, about how we’re not as messed up as people want to believe we are; or how maybe we’re even more messed up than they think.

Maybe I just need to think on it some more.

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