On the Internet

I know the last fifty million post have been about Meatloaf, but this one is not.

I’ve been thinking about what a strange thing the internet is.  I know many people have written on how now anything we want to know, we go to the internet.

Unlike an encyclopedia, where you could pretty much trust what it says, you have thousands of amateurs telling what they think, right or wrong, and you basically go with the most common consensus and call that the truth.  Wikipedia is the new encyclopedia, and I have to say, it’s entry on the Church was about as accurate as the print encyclopedias I’ve looked at (Mostly right).

There is something else, and this is what I have been dwelling on more, really strange about the internet.  Blog/Twitter/Facebook stalking. How else can you peep in at someone and their thoughts and not be a criminal?  I do it all the time, and when you say it the way I just did, it’s weird.  This leads to something else.  Feeling like you know someone you don’t really know.

Now, on facebook and twitter I don’t friend/follow anyone I don’t know in RL, unless they are a public figure like Ted Cruz or the Piano Guys, but I’m friends/follow a LOT of people who I could maybe pick them out of a line up, but they probably couldn’t do the same for me.  Or people who I have had one or two short exchanges with.  These are mostly people from church.  This brings up another topic that I will write on another day, how you can Love people you don’t really know.  So you meet these people from church that you don’t really know and you friend/follow them and you learn all this personal stuff about them, see pictures of them on vacation, see what they think and worry about, but you still have never had a real conversation with them.

I have on person I follow on twitter that comes to mind as a perfect example of this.


I have had probably two, passing-you-in-the-hall-say-hi and that’s about it conversations with Gina.  She’s played piano while I was the chorister for a few baptisms and we talked briefly about the songs and that fact that I can’t lead music worth crap, but that’s all the RL contact I’ve had with Gina.

Gina is a prolific tweeter (is that the correct term?) She is DANG funny.  I have learned that Gina is a writer.  I know all kinds of things about her kids that I didn’t.  I have seen pictures of her life through instagram.  I have a feel for the way she thinks, her politics.  I have a pretty good idea (I think) how she would react to some situations, all with out ever having a real-life-in-depth conversation with her.

The other thing that makes it weird, is I doubt Gina had been able to glean the same information about me.  I am not a prolific tweeter, nor do I have an instagram account, and until Meatloaf was born the only pictures I had of my kids on Facebook was my header picture.  She has probably figured out my politics as that’s about the only thing I post on Facebook, links to political articles. So it makes it a really one sided friendship, at least I think…

That’s the other weird thing, when you have a RL conversation with people you walk away knowing what they probably learned about you from the conversation, both participants in the conversation had equal time and opportunity to learn about the other person.  You will have a good idea of what the other person came away with, not so with the internet.  Gina doesn’t know I even read her tweets (well, she does now, but before <shrug>) but if we had a RL conversation, Gina would know it.

So, do you have a lot of internet only friends?  Do these “friends” know you think of them as friends?  Could they pick you out of a crowd?  Do you think this is a good thing?  Do you think it’s killing real friendship?  I my mind, the jury is still out.



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