This evening, I started thinking about my situation on the internet (as if I could have a situation “on” the internet; there may be plenty of chairs online, but you can’t sit on any of them). My internet adventures have brought me into contact with many people and brought many more people into contact with me. On one hand, it’s somewhat unnerving to think thousands of eyes are seeing things I posted – some of which would probably be nice to go and erase. But since many people don’t go digging through internet records unless their actually trying to dig up dirt on people, it has become easier to rewrite one’s appearance on the net. On the other hand, thousands of people actually care to see what I’ve posted online. I’ve become a member of various forums and miscellaneous websites, and I have blogs several people follow. What would happen if I just “left”?
One has to wonder how many people notice if you stop posting (for a long period of time) and how many people care. All of that depends on what you post and what people follow you around looking to find, but notably, many people will notice you are “missing” – more precisely, that your input is missing.
Perhaps it is this feeling that if you stop, people will want you back, and this possibly delusional (possibly not) notion is then accompanied by this desire to “stay” – continue posting information, valuable or not. You start to find yourself “tied” to the internet. You also start to shape your content to appeal towards your audience, even though you have no idea what they are actually interested in or why they go look at your posts in the first place. Curiosity drives most of it, I’m sure, but the other 3% might be some legit interest in some wee little point you made. You essentially start to become the entertainer of an invisible audience. It’s almost like you willingly become a co-star on the Truman Show, knowing full well that people are watching you and still acting in front of them anyways.
Physically, it is easy to walk away from the computer. It is just as easy to stop posting. Get busy. Have a real life. You might lose interest from people, but one has to wonder what the benefit of keeping interest is later. Not to say there aren’t benefits – for example, you can certainly grow a business entirely online these days – but it isn’t as though a long period of absence will kill you either.
There were studies performed on the social problems of Facebook. Aside from specific personal problems (like exes, etc), much of the unhappiness ultimately boiled down to things being so impersonal that people could never be satisfied in their relationships. Technology has a way of allowing people to communicate without ever really connecting them, despite all of the company slogans out there claiming otherwise.
Physical touch is certainly a key part of relationships, but it still misses a vital point: Human connection requires apparent physical proximity in a psychological way. For example, consider a relationship of a young man and woman in which the woman has been gradually moving away psychologically, and the boy can sense it. The young man obviously feels a loss and a psychological gap, even if he’s right next to the girl trying to woo her back. Similarly, androids (not the phones; the robots) and fem-bots (because some people don’t know what a real android is) will never satisfy the relationship needs of people because they aren’t real humans, and knowing this creates a psychological gap for humans from the robots. Consequently, a human being who lives with only an android will start to feel a psychological gap from other human beings, which ultimately creates a vacuum in them they subconsciously need to fill, no matter how introverted they may be.
All that said, the audience on the internet becomes something like the pen pal you never meet. The psychological gap from humanity creates a vacuum, unless one already has the right relationships in real life. At the same time, there is some connection with humanity just from interacting with them.
It is interesting to note how people have become more honest about who they are. By that I mean the internet isn’t filled with “guys” and guys pretending to be hot girls. There are certainly fakers, but it seems like at least 80% of the time now, when a website asks for sex, people pick the accurate response.
From time to time, I wonder how many bots are on the internet. While I doubt there are bots that actually mimic human activity enough to be convincing in the long run, there are certainly a variety of short-term opportunities to leave an impression. It ought to make you laugh to think that, for all the mystery there is behind your own internet following, you yourself may be quite satisfied by a bunch of bots whose actual form you are completely unaware of. Remember that next time you want to stop posting on the internet. It’s ok, the bots (if they exist) won’t mind you leaving, and the real people will understand you have a life and need to get back to it.