So I had intended to write about this yesterday but really sidetracked with hackers and governmental agencies with three-letter names. Let's skip past all that, shall we?
Over the weekend got to briefly visit some friends and their new baby. I hadn't seen them in quite some time - he, not sure how long. She, a colleague who transitioned to being a stay-at-home-mom / freelancer / independent business owner when it was time to go out on maternity leave in advance of the arrival of their second child.
But because they share their life through blogs, complete with photos and video and because we do interact in Facebook, it was so easy to just jump back in. True, the visit was a brief encounter spent mostly trying to keep Ben from being miserable and making everyone else's time less pleasant, but it also felt like there hadn't been any time apart.
But to reflect on it later, it was a little bit weird - because so much of what we put out there (save Facebook) is truly unidirectional, broadcast-even, you may feel like you're connected or know someone, but the feedback loop is unclosed (save, again, the occasional comment on the blog). You posted a blog, I read it, you don't know if I read it, or if I understood it, or how it factored into my mental model of who you are. It also probably allowed me to be lazy or less in the moment. Only after we were in the car did it occur to me to express something meaningful that I should have said in person. So I sent them a note on Facebook after I got home. pffft.
I recall the first day of COMA123 as a freshman in college (yeah, the irony of "coma" is not lost on us Communications Majors from PLU) when they taught that 1+1=3. What I say, what you hear and the experience we share together of saying and hearing. (Or alternatively, what I think you heard me say. In truth, perhaps 1+1 is at least 4. But now I might be digressing again.)
It's almost like when someone watches a TV show and starts to think they know the actors. Only in this case, we really do know the actors. So the internet is really cool for its ability to help us remain connected to people who don't inhabit our immediate present physical world on a very frequent basis, but it sets up a new dynamic where the very real opportunity exists for people to know you on a much more close level than you realize. It's an imbalance. That's not bad - this opportunity to remain in contact with people long after you move or change jobs or graduate is a wonderful thing. But it sure is different.
And that's before you consider that you actually only share a version of yourself, either purposefully or accidentally. If it's not cultivated, then it's hard to see in yourself - are you sharing the "cool" version or the "sad" version or the "lonely" version or the "uninhibited" version?
I know this is a ramble, but sometimes writing is the easiest way to get it out of my head so I can move on.