I read a post somewhere on the web a few days ago, and people were discussing whether you should worry if nobody responded to to your blog/twitter or whatever. It got me thinking. . . .and the debate I came up with was this : Is the web an amazing way for communicating with millions of people from all over the world? Or is it simply a way of broadcasting? i.e is it simply communication in one direction?
Let’s start on a basic level. e-mails are great in the sense that you can dash off a note quickly irrespective of international times differences or differences in personal habits regarding hours. However this is also its disadvantage, in that demands an instant response which almost by definition will be rushed.
For example, frequently people will send a lengthy e-mail of the round-robin type: you know; ‘Phoebe and Toby and both doing very well. though the decision between tap-dancing classes and colloquial Chinese has been a struggle for him, whereas Phoebe’s welding is coming on marvellously….’
Yet if you respond to this with appropriate ‘well done’s’ and ‘oh dear’ and some similar interludes of your own (clearly less-interesting) life, there is frequently no acknowledgment of your activities, affairs or tribulations… Correct? (or is that just me?)
What I am saying is that the information is often hi-tech braggadocio! And I don’t mean that people shouldn’t be proud of their own achievements, it’s just that e-mail encourages self-obsession without appropriate response to others equally important needs.
Another way that this expresses itself is the self congratulatory way people pass on ‘touchy feeling schmaltz’ e-mails as a substitute for real emotional involvement with friends. (One ‘friend’ sent these to me regularly, and as they became mixed in with with fairly reactionary political jokes, I stopped acknowledging them. Don’t hear from him any more.) In fact, some of these are simply carefully written excuses, which essentially: ‘I can’t be bothered to contact you properly but have this prepackaged ‘saccharine-mail‘, which shows clearly that I’m thinking of you . . . ‘ Yeah, sure….
On the next level up: in terms of (potential) audience size, there is the blog. As I observed recently, one day on WordPress alone 358 million words were published. But how many were read? Now many people argue that the internet gives everybody a chance to present their work or views and be heard, and as such is democratic and just. I’m all for democratization of the media, but if there’s 650,000 posts daily on WordPress alone who’s listening? If there’s so many people on the stage who’s in the audience? With so much information, how can we discern what’s worth reading and what isn’t? We resort to Search Engines who can look for keywords but can’t discern between Gore Vidal and Enid Blyton…..
My take on it is this: I have met people over the internet, and subsequently got to meet them in person, and have made some very good friends. They are people whose company I like, whose opinion I value and who I care for. Other friendships have been made face to face (if briefly) but the internet has enabled these friendships to survive and flourish, over long distances and long periods of time between face to face contact. These are things I value. I’m on Facebook, which I do find useful . . . . ironically though I live in a village of 900 people , it was only through Facebook I that I learned the surnames of many friends and worked out who was related to who!! So I’m no Luddite.
BUT I also send handwritten letters or cards frequently, and the fact that people appreciate them makes me feel good, too! It’s win-win!!
Any comments would be appreciated! And responded to!