One of the popular things that writers discuss when they decide to Decry The Modern World is how the Internet has made us more isolated and how we don’t have Real Friends.

Really?

How many of you reading this have made a friend on the internet, then travelled more than 500 miles to visit that person?  That’s not real?

Then my family growing up wasn’t a real family!  We traveled to Minnesota from Virginia for my brother to be a ring bearer in a 1st cousin once removed’s wedding.  We went to Georgia to see a great aunt.   We regularly traveled an hour or two to see (and often help out) cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and so on.

How does this count, yet when I do the same thing to visit friends I’ve met through a computer, there is this idea that these friendships aren’t real friendships?  And don’t get me started on the “blood is thicker than water” canard.  I am lucky enough that I have blood relations that are indeed close and mutually supportive, but I have blood relations that aren’t, too.  It’s about the same range as friendships I’ve made.  It’s more to do with the people involved than the accidents of birth.

What? Face to face time?

I was comparing how often I saw people in person before I was connected to the Internet to now.   You know what?  I interact face to face in a non-business environment about as often as I did.  In fact, I tend to see people socially a bit more now.

Why?

The Internet.  It offers better opportunity for me to meet people that I actually have something in common with!  Sure, I’m cool with helping shovel Mrs. Next Door’s driveway, or driving Senora Across the Street to the grocery store.  But I’m unlikely to be talking politics, science or philosophy with ‘em[1].  So in my case, I have considerably more friends, both in simple quantity and in satisfaction levels, from being able to communicate across distance.

I think people that say the Internet makes them socially isolated might be unskilled in their appropriate use of technology.  We hear about people texting all through face to face social gatherings.  Now, I spent the weekend with some friends of mine who are even geekier than I am.   When we went out to dinner, we talked.  Phones stayed in purses, and there was no texting going on.  We… talked.  Just like people did before the Internet.


[1] In Sra. Across the Street’s case, that’s mostly a language issue. Neither her English nor my Spanish is up to that.

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One thought on “The Internet is Socially Isolating? NAH!

  1. They are real friends, for sure, and in the past month or so I’ve been on 2 dates with 2 ladies whom I’ve never met (but someday will) face to face.

    One date night was a movie on Google Video, and Google Talk. We synced up our videos and watched the movie together, chatting MST3K style throughout.

    Last night, I watched a hockey game on TV with somebody who was at the hockey game, and we were having drinks and chatting vociferously via SMS (I love you, Google Voice!)

    Real conversations + real quality time = real friendship. On the other hand, there are some people I know locally who aren’t real friends… :-p

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