Clouds’ Illusions

My pal Dan Hull of  What About Clients/Paris? fame, gets around more than I do, spending a lot of time jetting between his various offices.  This means he gets to overhear what people on airplanes say.  Like, “can I get an extra bag of peanuts?”  Or “the guy’s fat is spilling over the armrest and onto my seat and giving me the willies.”

Every once in a while, Dan hears something profound, like this on Delta Flight 1537, departing Cincinnati for San Diego,

No one wants to be alone. So what does the Net offer non-business humans? Only this: the illusion of companionship and support without the demands and responsibilities of friendship.

–A passenger.

Know anybody who thinks their twitter followers really care deeply about them?  You know, the sort of person who rushes through dinner with the spouse and kids to share his pain online?  Or has to get back to the internet because someone has written something about her and she has to respond or their feelings will be hurt?

You are all, no doubt, very wonderful people, but we don’t really know one another. There are real people, however, who do know you.  Some will like you and others won’t, but they’re real.  You can shake their hand, touch them, ask them for a favor and get turned down. 

Maybe you have 10,000 friends on Facebook.  Maybe you have 50,000 twitter followers.  Maybe you have 100,000 blog readers.  How many will drive you to the office if your car breaks down?

There is nothing wrong with enjoying the digital world, feeling the glow of a community that doesn’t exist in real life, yet surrounds you with approval that no flesh and blood person ever did.  But do they disappear when you turn off your computer?

Don’t let the shiny toys distract you from what’s real.

6 comments on “Clouds’ Illusions

  1. A Troll

    Although the friendship may an illusion, the animosity that the internet can engender is real and it can linger long after the computer has been turned off.

    Your friend

    Arthur Troll

  2. Alex Bunin

    Like our governor, I only post to “Tweeter.” Since it does not exist, I have no problems with virtual friends or enemies.

  3. Dan Hull

    Thanks, Scott. Appreciated.

    Speaking of Poofs, many Internet People might be too caught up in the Convenient and Lazy Alternate Reality of It All. If there is a question about an idea, or a beef with a person, one can always can step up, un-poof himself/herself and ask questions by meeting someone or at least talking live on the phone to the person who authored the idea. Doesn’t cost much; we still have meeting rooms and phones. Voices and bodies communicate better and more than written words. I know this takes the fun out of: (1) dumbing humans down, (2) contempt prior to actual investigation and (3) ignoring the complexities of real life, but you can really learn a lot more. Beats guessing, inaccuracy, unfairness, and getting high on rage and faux righteous indignation, too.

    There are very few writers on the Net who do any homework–and it’s getting worse. Wasn’t Tech and Social Media supposed to make us Smarter and Better–and Not Dumber and Smaller?

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