This has been sitting on my hard drive for months. Now is finally the right time. I hope this helps you find clarity on your journey.
Part almost ebook, part soul search, part stream of consciousness, this is not what or how I normally write, but not sharing this would be like not allowing part of heart to run forward. Stopping evolution. And you can’t stop evolution. I hope you understand.
Name the writers bloggers/writers/etc. that you read regularly. The ones where, when the latest post hits your inbox, you drop whatever you are doing to read it. After you read it, you feel like you had a conversation with someone who really understands you.
It’s like they were talking to you.
It begins like most relationships. You meet them, usually through a friend. After a nice conversation, you consider how much you enjoyed your time together, and you decide to meet again. Then again. Then again.
Before you know it, you are in love. You’re waiting for that text, that phone call, anything that lets you experience that connection you value so much. The head over heels feeling of a new crush rushes over you again and again as you come to know this person in a deeper, more complete way. Who knows when it will end?
Perhaps it won’t. Perhaps it will. That is simply the nature of any relationship.
Now wait one second. I had to have taken something out of context, didn’t I? I took your email subscriptions and turned them into a twisted love story.
But, is it really that far from the truth?
When you enter into any sort of relationship, you are typically introduced by a friend. Whether this introduction comes from Twitter or Facebook or even a discussion isn’t important. The important fact is you are introduced through a trusted source.
After being properly introduced, it makes sense to find out more about who you are seeing. You explore archives, Google them, and find out as much you can, because you find this new person exciting or interesting.
This is the point where you decide if you are compatible. Will you keep reading what they have to say? Are they really speaking to you? Generally, this is where you hit the subscribe button. Then, you add them on Twitter and Facebook, so you too can wait on their updates, the direction of where to look for the next big thing.
And you follow them. You’d follow them as long as they kept their end of the bargain. As long as the trust remained, you would stay.
How did this happen? We are so involved in this online world that it is visibly a part of us in our daily physical lives. You think you’re not affected?
When was the last time you were angered by what someone said on Facebook? How about Twitter?
Do you ever feel validated by who you are talking to online, simply because you are talking to them?
Feeling connected to someone, anyone, on a digital or physical plane is an integral part of what makes us human. The internet is an amazing tool for how it allows us to share information in less time than it takes to blink, but the most fascinating part of the internet is how it is expanding the ways in which we connect to one another.
I connect to you on Facebook. We chat. We share. We continue to circulate knowledge and learn from one another in an ever-expanding web of digital interaction.
How on earth did decluttering our spaces and reducing our personal belongings come to this point? How does minimalism relate to technology, and more importantly, how does this relationship effect our relationships to one another?
Rather than attempt to explain what has already been put rather eloquently, I’ll turn you to Kevin Kelly, author of What Technology Wants. He suggests that this minimalist approach to life is a carryover effect from our early days of traveling light, where having less was actually a virtue. However, because the human brain is constantly looking for ways to improve upon what it already can do, tools are an integral part of humanity as a whole. You can’t separate technology from humanity.
This is where the term “cyborg” comes in. It makes quite a few people uncomfortable, as they think of Star Trek and nerds and Steve Mann, but really there is no better word for it.
Human + tool (usually electronic/high tech) = cyborg.
Ex. Human + electronic limb that gives them full functioning human capabilities = cyborg
Ex. 2. Human + cellphone that connect them to an entire world full of other humans = cyborg
Do you understand?
For my academic research, I began with the term “technosocial hybrid,” but let’s be honest, they mean the exact same thing when it comes down to it.
Technosocial hybrid is less likely to make you close yourself off to what I’m saying, though. I sound less crazy than if I start throwing the cyborg word around. So, let’s get over that right now. Frankly, cyborg is much shorter and less pretentious than technosocial hybrid, and now you understand my usage of the term.
While I understand it can be hard to break a word of its connotations to you personally, I expect you can over it long enough to take something valuable from this.
What happens when you are experiencing ambient intimacy with someone? What happens if your digital selves fall in love? Are you invested in the implications of that?
How can you not be?
When you find a writer who speaks to you, and it feels like they are writing specifically to you, how does that make you feel? Special. Unique. Loved.
The complication here occurs when you become seriously emotionally invested. In your video game, or whatever media form you choose to use as your medium, how does your behavior as your digital self translate into your real world self?
Is your digital self as much a part of you as your physical self is?
I would argue, no. Or rather, not yet.
Example: Let’s say someone were to become heavily involved in a digital relationship. They relate so well to what this other person thinks, says, and does, that it begins to show in their behavior in the physical world. The two people decide to meet, and it is then they realize their physical, real selves don’t align in the same way their digital selves do.
What happens then?
A form of digital heartbreak.
Is it as awful and soul crushing as what real heartbreak feels like? No. But, it does sadden you a bit. Almost like a part of you was hurt in some way, but nothing you can’t get over soon. No months of mourning a relationship there.
But, what if it didn’t happen quite like that? What if, like the case is with so many couples who have met online, they find they are even more deeply connected once they look into each other’s eyes? The relationship they began in the land of the internet translates into a real-life, passionate love affair.
Remember 10 years ago when we looked down upon relationships that began on the internet? People would look at you incredulously about meeting someone you met online, and act like you were insane. The internet was so scary! Unknown. How would you know if the person was really who they said they were?
Well, these days it is less of an issue. As long as you take basic safety precautions, meeting someone you meet on the internet is pretty run of the mill anymore. You know what the person looks like, and if they don’t look like themselves, well, that is probably an indicator of what to expect from the encounter.
This is a demonstration of digital transparency, a phenomenon that will only continue to infiltrate our on and offline identities. You can’t just make up who you are on Myspace anymore. It’s not that easy.
If you are trying to manipulate the person who is reading, watching, or experiencing you as a person online, they can tell. Authenticity and the fine art of being genuine online are simply part of the digital experience now.
Example: I write about being a minimalist, because in real life, I am a minimalist. It is part of who I am and how I live, and you can see that in my writing. When someone is writing about being a minimalist, but obviously isn’t actually walking their talk, you know.
Being insincere online doesn’t do anything for anyone.
You look like a jack ass and a hypocrite. (Not to say that total transparency will make you look any less like a hypocrite. It will make you more aware of it in the choices you make, though, because you’ll be held publicly accountable. )
I’ve lived through a love story. A love story where my best friend saved me from myself and my poor choices. Now, I will have to save him. This isn’t going to be easy. Not even close.
I’m not sure if he’ll understand or not. This is regrettable, saddening to a point that it won’t be easy if I have to make the decision I’m afraid of making. It’s another one of those.
I’m better than that. Now, I have risen out of the dust. Nothing could be more satisfying than making those incredible connections one right after another. Oh my god.
Connection. Relationships. That is what it is about. I get that now.
We’re entering this new digital age where we have access to anyone and everyone all over the world. Why should we limit our circle to those who are physically near us?
It’s an odd, potentially difficult society shift for many, but this is what we are heading towards. The reason you feel so connected to someone as a writer is because that person is giving you a piece of themselves. As we further condense our screens into a single device that can do it all – since that is what is happening slowly but surely – we will only be giving more of ourselves.
It is inevitable. Those afraid of not having privacy on the internet now are about to be shocked, because much like writer Gwen Bell desires, we will showing all of ourselves.
We won’t have a choice.
I don’t have a choice. This is what I am.
Some of us have things happen to us, and some of us actively create the circumstances in which we are now the storyteller.
Who is telling your story?
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