Monday, August 6, 2007

So Much Cooler Online

It had to happen eventually. As ubiquitous as the internet has become in our lives, people had to start writing songs about it. This morning I heard a song on the radio with the unlikely chorus: "I'm so much cooler online." I laughed, because so many, many people lie about themselves on internet dating sites and whatnot (I do not know this from personal experience. I have been married forever. Or at least since before internet dating. But I have friends, and I've heard the stories.)

But it did make me think: are we all cooler online? Not because we lie, but because we interact only on our own schedules, when we're in the mood for it, and we only show those parts of ourselves that are funny, interesting, and intelligent? If you could see me when I first wake up in the morning, when I'm scowling and incoherent and even making coffee is beyond my creative abilities, would you still want to read what I have to say? If you could hear me when I'm being completely unreasonable and more than a little bitchy in an argument that I know I'm losing, would you still find me likable? What if you discovered that my politics are offensive to you, or that I'm not raising my kids in a way that you can approve of, or I haven't mowed my lawn in a month?

We all make judgments about people we meet. Often they are based on early impressions or isolated incidents, and often we will never be able to see beyond our initial view of a person, even if we know that person for years after the initial meeting. Maybe we should all meet online first, where we can't see race or age or weight or attractiveness or social status, and where we all get a chance to think about how we want to present ourselves, and hit the backspace key as many times as necessary before we post for public consumption. Maybe the world would be better if we had to share our thoughts before we could interact in person. I wonder how many people I already know, but have written off as potential friends, who would be really interesting and fun if I met them in the blogosphere. Maybe we're all cooler online.

15 comments:

Tammy said...

Great post! I've met some terrific, interesting, quirky, funny people online that I would consider friends... yet I wonder if I would've ever gotten to know them if they lived in my neighborhood. Would social, political, or religious views have set us apart? Or, more likely, would me being such an introvert have kept me alienated.

I like that the internet gives me the opportunity to get to know somebody while avoiding all that awkward small talk. And, like you said, we only have to be social when we feel like it. :)

MelissaKnits said...

I am definately cooler online. Also much, much taller, and with more personality. I am also going to see Brad Paisley in September in Maine and I hope to God he does that song.

Seriously. If you ever meet me in person you'll fall over laughing!

I've had the same thoughts. I cannot decide if the internet creates an artificial environment or allows me to be more myself. I am very awkward in person.

sophanne said...

You've articulated many of my own musings on the phenomena.

I think while dating and chatrooms may have contributed to the artificiality of the internet, the community of bloggers speaks to its potential for authenticity. (though I've never actually met any of my blogfriends so I might be completely wrong there.)

Perhaps blogland represents who we all aspire to be.

I have more thoughts about in-person people and the effects that reality tv (those that are contests with judges) and posssibly organized religion has on us all.

Sharon said...

I've said it before on somebody's blog, can't remember if it was this one, but what I bring to my online life is my "best" self. The one that isn't sometimes mean-spirited or petty or judgmental of others. We all have the choice of how much of ourselves we want to reveal, so I don't feel I really "know" anyone or that they "know" me. However, one thing of which I'm absolutely certain is that fiber artists tend to be exceptional people. So while there might be insurmountable differences in behaviors or religious beliefs or political stances if we were to meet one another in person, I believe that we can always find some sort of common ground. We can have respect for one another even if we don't become "bff".

Quail Hill Knits said...

I don't know about you but when I am blogging I have a chance to review what I have said and decide if that is the way I really want to say it. In real life, it is so much harder to do that unless you want to find yourself talking to the air because the long pauses in your conversation bored the other person out of their mind. However, The people I have met on line so far have already been fairly incredible individuals --- I think that is because we are attracted to blogs that do reflect well on the writers.

The_Add_Knitter said...

I agree with the poster that said that when you post or blog, you have the opportunity to edit and recast what you're trying to say in a way that face-to-face communication doesn't make possible. My friend was recently badly burned in an internet dating situation where the guy who answered her posting was still technically married, so I am so glad that I never had to go through that.

Kim said...

Very thought provoking. It's definitely an artificial environment, but with knit bloggers it seems like the artifical environment results in a true authentic community. Freaky. When you're getting to know people online and making blog friends, things like looks, weight, how their voice sounds, etc. etc. don't get in the way. I've made many blog friends (and in-person friends who were initially blog friends)and we're all so freaking cool it's mind boggling. har har. It must be the yarn fumes.

uberstrickenfrau said...

Per-zackly what they said!!!I think this allows you to get to know people before you shoot off at the lip and cause offense like mostly happens in real time. You listen to people more and understand them and I think that makes you more 'forgiving' of their political and religious beliefs cause everyone is so much more than those lables.

Gail said...

Hey,

Are you going to the knitting group tomorrow? I can't because I'm working. Tell everyone I say hi if you do.

Gail

Sarah said...

This is a great post as I have often thought of this very thing. I tend to say things, rarely——scratch that, occasionally when I am very tired or nervous or in the first stages of pregnancy that I regret immediately after saying them or later on after someone has reminded me what I said.

With blogging I have the option of really thinking about what I say before I hit send. I can think of the tone of a message and how someone will interpret it. I like to think I am usually thoughtful but blogging is my fail-safe, think before inserting foot in mouth system. O.K. maybe it isn't a fail-safe, but it's a start.

Here is to our cleaned up selves.

Kristin said...

I'm not sure that cool is the right word. I am definitely more tolerant and more patient online. Blogging is a very interesting phenomenon. Blog friends never call at the wrong time or show up unannounced and get blasted with a bad mood.
I find a lot of bloggers are very open with their disasters, parenting and knitting alike. I love that, it shows that we are all just trying to do our best.

Gingersnaps with Tea... said...

OK first off, you haven't missed anything on the internet dating thing Trust me. Tried it. NEVER again. We are cooler on-line, we can backspace over sadness or loneliness and turn it into self deprecating humor and pithy observations. We can sanitize our image, brand ourselves, market ourselves for public consumption. Or we can connect which is probably the most surprising thing of all.

Faith! said...

I'm pretty much the same online, except all that is endearing and sweet in a post's worth is, I'm perpetually afraid, somewhat annoying in real life. It's just a bit too much. Great post, though; it made me think.

Knot Another Hat said...

Wow - very insightful post. And yes, I'm definitely cooler online! I think . . .

a friend to knit with said...

Love this! I have thought about this often....I just love the fact that with bloggers, you have a common thread (no pun intended)and that is what brings you together. What I also love is that it makes you realize that the things that may have kept you apart are not in the way.........That is what makes us all very cool! :)