The internet is a marvelous, mysterious, dangerous thing. I won’t prattle on about that last item. I’ve done some of that already. I want to focus on the first two. Years ago, I owned and operated an entertainment website that featured a chat forum. Through that forum I was able to connect with people all over the globe. I formed some decent friendships in the years I frequented my site (and others).
I stepped away from that world almost a decade ago because I was becoming too consumed with my online life and my real life was suffering. I don’t regret that choice. Now that I’m blogging though, I’m reminded of some of the things I loved about that old life of mine. I’m still fascinated by my ability to connect with people half a world away. Some might argue — validly — that the internet is changing the way that humans interact with one another and I would agree. Like the proverbial two-edged sword, this brings about consequences that are both beneficial and, well… not beneficial.
I live in an apartment complex and barely know any of my neighbors. Worse still, I have little interest in getting to know them. I’m sure they’re probably lovely people (not all of them) but I just have no desire to open myself up. Conversely, I have met others online that live in many different parts of the world and I am closer to them intellectually than I am to the guy that lives right below me. Perhaps this isn’t a good thing, but maybe it is. We are no longer bound to relate to others simply because of geographic limitations. In decades past, neighbors got to know each other because those were the only humans around to meet. The internet has opened up our options.
Now, I can choose my companions based in similar interests and personalities rather than proximity. Is that so bad? Communities still exist, they are just defined now in different ways. I can learn about somebody living in India, or Singapore or South Africa and experience their lives, customs, traditions and perspectives, all with a few clicks of a button and some basic typing. (Or Skype, which I have but rarely use).
I’ve been fortunate enough in my youth to have traveled out of my home country of America and I’m so thankful that I did. I love the United States, but my fellow countrymen (and women) tend to have a very biased and naive view of the world and often act as though we (Americans) are separate and above citizens of other countries. I find this shameful.
I’m so very happy to belong to the only real community that matters: The human race. I am in awe of the power of the internet to transport me to anywhere I want to go and with a bit of luck, I can find a local to guide me and show me the ways of their world. To all of you who are reading this, I want to simply say “Hello, I’m happy to meet you.” If I had the money, I would visit all of you.
If you care to, just for fun, leave your location in the comments so I (and other bloggers) can see how far our words really reach. Let’s embrace the new paradigm of community. It truly is amazing.
[By the way, I live in Mesa, Arizona. Hot, dry desert area. Lots of cactus. Used to live in Florida. Hot, wet swampy area. Lots of alligators.]