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Anyone else feel like it's hard to connect with people online? I mean *really* connect. I feel like some of the communication platforms that we use to share our thoughts are not suitable for meaningful exchanges, or are not being used in such a way. Nothing is long lasting. All communication is transient and shallow. Posts get buried underneath new posts. Memes get more interaction than questions or stories. I totally get it - a meme is much easier to digest and to really like and it doesn't require a written response, and there's nothing wrong with any of that, but what happens when you have a legit question or you just need to talk to somebody deeply about a subject? There's always gonna be someone who dismisses it but leaves a snarky comment behind, or somebody answers in such a way that doesn't move the discussion forward. Now that I am writing this, I realize that similar things happen in real interactions. You do small talk, you talk about a movie or a TV show - no problem. But whenever you wanna touch on a subject that doesn't have a clear answer, or is a bit emotionally vague, it seems that people close up a bit or try not to get into the thick of it. Fuck man, I don't need a coherent, well-structured answer, backed by research. I just wanna know how you feel. Do you ever feel like this too? Are you afraid of this, the same way I am afraid of it? Or tell me why you're so excited about this? I don't know, all this is obviously very abstract and I don't know where I am going with this. I suppose there's the fear of ultimate impermanence behind of all this, and I want to share that fear with someone else, not in some kind of hardcore blood-brothers way, but just like fucking wanna feel like we're all in this together, like that we acknowledge each other as something a bit more than just a pixelated avatar (which are funny as hell by the way) somewhere out there on the network. Maybe it's all in my head.

And at the same time I recognize that if somebody responds to this post and opens up in some kind of way, any kind of way, I will possibly not know how to open up in return as awkwardness settles in and defense mechanisms go up and just the vagueness and the uncertainty of the whole situation becomes too confusing, and the whole effort drops back to a level of chitchat for a glimpse of a second before it is swallowed whole by the new waves of conversations started by other people trying to connect with somebody else to escape their own loneliness.

I think that nobody captures this kind of abstract stuff better than David Foster Wallace: "You don't have to think very hard to realize that our dread of both relationships and loneliness ... has to do with angst about death, the recognition that I'm going to die, and die very much alone, and the rest of the world is going to go merrily on without me."

Comments
  • 1
    Email, and prior to that, the written letter. Something that forced one to contemplate the words one is writing, as well as contemplate the words of the other writer. Some of the most intimate conversations were conducted over long distance via mail. But the key is that the conversations were private between the two writers. Well them, and depending on the country or countries involved, a government censor or two.
  • 2
    @iAmNaN You are totally right about mail. Having the ability to write something only once without being able to edit or retrieve the sent letter made every word count. Nowadays it's so easy to sloppily write smth in chat that the words do not carry the same power. Now more meaningful is the elapsed time between the moment someone reads your message (read receipt checkmarks) and the moment they respond, the presence or the lack of a period at the end of a sentence, the subtlety or carelessness of their choice of emojis.

    Also, a lot of social networks are completely overrun by businesses and their sly marketing tactics, so the majority of the content out there is just a bunch of clever ways of trying to shove more stuff up your ass.
  • 2
    Well, it's hard to open up to people. You got to have some kind of connection and that can be a rare thing... Especially over text when there's a stranger on the other side.

    With that said, some of my most meaningful relationships were either partially or fully online. Sometimes I'd hang out with people but it was easier to share deep stuff in text so we'd save most of the real talk for that.
  • 2
    Not to be cynical, but IRL connections are exactly the same.

    We only sustain our relationships due to the principal of propinquity.

    Seriously. Think about that long and hard.
  • 1
    Threaded chat.

    You can see that in some newsgroup readers. (aka usenet.)

    That will give you the feeling you want so to speak.

    This, non-threaded chat, not the same.

    Facebook, with its 1 or 2 level deep threaded chat, makes a half hearted effort at things.

    And then ruins it even more by making it hard to find anything you wrote yesterday.

    I've chatted to the same folk online in some cases for over 20 years.
  • 2
    @toriyuno I had never heard the word "propinquity" before. Had to look it up! Do you mean that people need to have regular communication in order to have a chance at connection?
  • 2
    @Nanos thinking back to the days of Blue Wave on Fidonet. Probably before your time. I looked forward to every evening to field the mail packets, with a tell to my wife, "Don't pick up the phone until I say it's OK!" Those were great times, even if you did have to dial in to a BBS to interact. A group of us tried to recreate the experience on FB, but it just wasn't the same.
  • 0
    @iAmNaN Sadly at the time I couldn't a modem, or the telephone costs to be online !

    I got into online world around 1995 with a 14K modem, did join a few BBS's, before venturing further afield.

    Then joined newsgroups..
  • 0
    @SauceBoss that’s just an illusion
  • 4
    @SauceBoss I've had those experiences too, trust me. There will come a time in your life when you hit rock bottom, and you realize the thousands of acquaintances and the handful of 'close' friends will equally disappear from your life as if you're a stranger. It doesn't matter how many raves you went to with them, doesn't matter how many tender moments you've shared with them. People are selfish and fair weathered, and we're only bound to each other out of convenience.

    But this is something that you won't understand until you go through it.
  • 1
    @SauceBoss As sad as it is, I have to agree with @toriyuno on this one. While MDMA does help open up in that special way, the connection does not really last. Not to say that it isn't real or authentic (in fact I think in some ways it is more authentic than anything else really), but it is very much drug-induced, or drug-assisted if you prefer. I used to be in a group of friends in college and after we discovered e I thought we had found something truly special. I still love them in that nostalgic we-lived-that-moment-together kind of way but we don't talk anymore - we are not the same anymore. We live in different countries and any effort to reconnect online has fallen short. In fact after several attempts at reconnecting I have given up because I felt like nobody cared about reconnecting with me because everyone else just moved on and they have new friends and in the end I wasn't in any way special to them apart from the fact that I was just there with them at the time
  • 1
    @SauceBoss just a realist. Just like long distance relationships: 90% of them don't work out, but 100% believe in them.
  • 1
    One of the interesting parts about online contacts is that people tend to move around and at some point, a person who you knew 6,000 miles away ends up just down the road.

    Which makes meeting up a lot easier !

    Then of course, you end up moving to the other side of the planet..

    Then when you are talking on the phone (Once you have hiked to the tallest mountain nearby to get a signal..) the delay is like you are on the moon ! (And the landscape is similar..)

    One moment your friend is in university, the next moment their country is being bombed.

    A hurricane is baring down on them, and you never hear from them again.
  • 4
    @SauceBoss See man, this is exactly the problem. In trying to communicate we have put up defenses and developed subjective opinions. You now think of me and @toriyuno as sad people while we were just trying to share our thoughts, and we made the mistake of overfocusing on your mention of MDMA. Communication is very vague and everybody hears what they wanna hear, and what they hear is not what the speaker was trying to say. But the biggest mistake to make in this case is to grow defensive instead of opening up. On E everybody is a friend. Innocent until proven guilty. In real life everybody is an enemy. Guilty until proven innocent. And this is why this whole "genuine connection" thing is so difficult. We need to see more friends around, and feel safe in opening up to them.
  • 2
    @SauceBoss Nah, don't delete the account man. This community is just like any other - there are good things and bad things. Like I said in the previous post - it's a mistake to build defenses when we are challenged at communication, when we are feeling awkward, or vulnerable. I think that a solution is to open up further rather than to withdraw. You're a good guy and it's awesome that you have a positive view of things. Keep sharing it with others and keep seeing it in others. That's a good way to go about it
  • 2
    @SauceBoss In fact, this is exactly what you said in your first comment, so why withdraw yourself from this opportunity to connect with someone in however small way?
  • 1
    @konzeptraum propiquinty example. In an apartment building, who’s the most popular person? Does it have to do with social skills? gender? Hobby? Race?

    Nope. It’s the tenant living closest to the stairs.

    My favorite observation: devs go after girls that are in close proximity to them. They make up all sort of bullshit about how the girl’s their soulmate, so much in common, etc. But it just comes down to the girl most conveniently physically close to them. A lot of office drama ensues. It’s silly.
  • 2
    @toriyuno I met my wife on Da Bus in Hawaii. I have up my seat and gained a partner for life.
  • 0
    @iAmNaN

    Trouble there is I cycle, can't afford the bus..
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