posted on Nov, 26 2018 @ 03:39 AM
Caution! Old fart rant ahead!
Back in the pre-Internet days when I was growing up, things really weren't that much different in many ways. Humans are social animals; we want to be
around other humans. When young, we are part of a family; as we grow, we develop a circle of friends; when grown, our circle of friends centers around
work and home life (neighbors). And so it goes.
Likely, this need for social companionship goes far back in history to a time when one had trouble surviving on one's own. Living out in the country,
I have seen this first hand to a smaller degree. Things can happen out here that are simply not survivable without someone else around... a bear
attack, believe it or not, is easily survivable if medical attention is quick enough, but rarely so if not. A chain saw accident can open arteries...
well, as long as there's more blood to pour in, one can survive, but not very long without it. No one out here is invincible; we are all vulnerable to
attacks and accidents, and no matter how tough we are, we all know it.
How much moreso did this apply before modern transportation and modern medicine?
So with our social instincts tied to our survival, modern society evolved as I mentioned above... to include social circles. But then came the
Internet, with (as usual) a "better" way to do things. Social media became the norm instead of social circles. With social media, one's circle of
"friends" can be many times larger than was ever possible before. We call them "friends" on Facebook... but they're not fulfilling the same role as
friends in real life.
Me? I'm part of that weird generation. I came along at the very tail end of the baby boomers and just as Gen X was starting. When I was in my teens
and early 20s, there was no Facebook... computers were just becoming available and no one knew what to do with them. The only communication was
through billboards, accessed through slow modems using lines designed for voice, and with each having their own phone number. The Internet was no
match back then for the social circles, so I was forced to make friends, actual friends, and meet people. Some of those friends I still know today;
some are long forgotten. Some have turned out to be loyal and valued lifetime friendships; some ended in betrayal and anger.
Even today, I follow what I learned back then. I use the Internet to make friends, yes. Most I have never seen and likely will never see. Some I have
talked to by phone or Skype. A few I have met in reality. That's an awesome feeling when someone I already know through the Internet is standing there
face to face. Of course, that's assuming they can be deemed worthy to meet... redneck is country, but he's no fool. Caution is a good thing.
But my generation is coming into that time when they are falling. I have quite a few friends who have died, and most are in poor health. My generation
will soon come to an end, and that means those who came after me are now the vast majority. And they have the Internet!
I have watched them, especially my kids. The concept of face-to-face communication is going the way of the dodo. In it's place is this written word,
which in itself is an issue... 90% of communication is non-verbal and 90% of verbal communication is non-linguistic. Science still doesn't have a full
grasp on human pheromone response, and body language, demeanor, physical appearance all have deep roots in communication. Voice inflection, tone,
relative volume... all these are essential to true communication, and emojis are simply inadequate.
So we are left with text. 10% of 10% of our communication abilities. That's all this post is: text. No one is seeing that sparkle in my eye when I
make a joke (which for me is most of the time) or the way I am sitting, how my legs are crossed, the look in my eyes, the way my brow furrows, the
tiny inflections in my speech... all that is gone. Text. Text that can be read by a program... no human intervention required. I find it amazing we
even manage to communicate this way... moreso that so many seem to prefer it.
Maybe it's the convenience?
In any case, today's social circle has been mostly replaced with social media. A friend on Facebook is not the same as a friend in real life, but we
tend to treat them as such and expect the same returned. The biggest difference is we have so many more friends now. I don't even use Facebook... I
have an account, but I visit maybe once a year or so on average. It is useless to me. It's a total waste of time. And I see the destruction it has
wrought. But here's the rub: even I have a few hundred friends on Facebook!
In real life, I can count the number of friends, close friends, on my fingers. I consider myself lucky in that. I think I'm above average. Oh, there's
many more acquaintances, probably hundreds, but even those who I will call friend from time to time are not in that circle of close friends I have. My
friends are precious to me, because they are so hard to find. A friend on Facebook? Nah, really couldn't care less. I can get another one in the click
of a mouse.
We have become hollow and empty inside because we have lost that closeness in favor of popularity. But I have seen in my lifetime, the kids who were
so popular in high school, even those who maintained their popularity, still lacked the closeness I have with my circle of friends. Quantity versus
quality. Quality is what matters, but quantity is what the Internet offers.
As it is now, I stay on ATS. It's my go-to social media outlet. I have friends here, in every category I outlined above. There's a difference between
ATS and Facebook, and something happened just yesterday that illustrates that difference perfectly: before I found ATS I was a part of another
Internet community which I treated back then the same as I do ATS today. I made some actual friends, many of whom I have met in real life. One of them
called me up, out of the blue... he wants to do another get together. It's been over a decade. I want to go. I want to see them again, sit around and
talk about old times and new times and the future. Maybe I will get to go; I hope so.
Would I have taken that call, gotten that excited, from someone on Facebook? Nope... not important. Busy, sorry. You're quantity. I want quality. I
don't want that hollow, empty soul.
Hopefully some day others will see what I am talking about. Until then, just ignore the old redneck fogey. He obviously doesn't know what he's talking