The Digital Age: Redefining Real

Once upon a time, the only people we would ever meet or really come to know, were those who lived in the places we lived. Relationships were limited by geography. Much like it still is in Rhode Island (LOL) The digital age, or better stated, the age of digital communication has removed those limitations.

Personally, I was an early adopter of on-line communication. In fact, I didn’t improve my typing or my typing speed in any classroom setting. It wasn’t even the result of writing stories and novels. Nope. I honed my skills and speed in those AOL chatrooms circa 1998.

In many ways, AOL chatrooms were like a bar setting. The difference being, you didn’t compete with the loud music – the “masters” were those with the quickest typing speeds…and the best internet connection. As a writer, much of life goes on in my head anyways, so it wasn’t a big leap to form relationships through words on a screen.

Fast-forward these decades later and we have left the cluttered rooms of AOL for the brighter, more open forums of Facebook. And of course…there is video. Fast, cheap pre-installed, Skype, FaceTime or your poison of choice allows you to connect…almost directly…with people all over the world.

Psychologist, Sociologist, and opinion pundits scramble to place value and definition on these “new” somewhat “virtual” relationships. Shifting through the good, the bad and the ugly. Are these venues opening a world of better communication, greater cultural understanding, and new ideas? Or, are they the pathway to a future like that in the 2009, Bruce Willis movie Surrogates. A world where humans live in isolation chambers and interact virtually through robot surrogates.

I don’t worry much about it either way. I’ve met great people on-line. And I’ve found the “right” people eventually lead to “real” in-person meetings. Plus, I’m a bit of an existentialist. Reality is most often how we, the individual, define it. Logic, reason, debate, emotions—some things people just can’t see eye-to-eye on and cognitive bias seems to define many worlds.

But again, I focus on the good. The people I’ve met and connected with, the relationships (like meeting my wife) that would not have been possible with a digital connection to bridge the great geographical divides. Which brings us to this Writers After Dark Special Episode – The Sleepover. In which, my co-host SK Anthony and I, discuss are recent sleepover together and some of the finer points of on-line friendship.

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