Welcome to the real world

How often have you heard it? Those disparaging comments about spending too much time online, about how much better it is to get out there and talk to “real” people…

But, you know, these people that I talk to online, they are not some kind of virtual imaginary friends, they are flesh and blood human beings just like me, sitting at their computer and putting their thoughts and feeling into words, choosing to share something of themselves, sometimes making themselves very vulnerable, sometimes offering me the chance to talk about myself in a way that so many people out there are in too much of a rush for.

Online I can offload whatever I choose, and those who are not interested simply don’t have to stick around and listen, they can just click over to something else – the great advantage being that I don’t have to see the bored looks, the shifting and shuffling and thinking how they can tactfully extricate themselves from this embarrassing situation where they’ve simply asked this woman how she is and she has actually started to answer for real…

There’s that word again. Real. Once in a while I connect with a fellow human being for real and it’s wonderful, it’s like rainbows and music and wow – two human souls connecting.

It doesn’t have to be deep conversation, sometimes it’s just joking with someone and finding they get my sense of humour, exchanging friendly banter with someone, knowing they’re on a similar wavelength – it doesn’t all have to be deep, it’s just a question of affirming one another, giving the other person the non-verbal message: you’re ok, I like chatting with you, there is something about you that I like, I don’t find you totally boring or weird. Now and again giving the message to someone: you enrich my life, I value you. Sometimes sharing deep stuff, sometimes discussing preferred ice cream flavours – it’s all part of this thing called online social networking, and I don’t know where I’d be without it, because out there in face-to-face communication it is so much harder to find these gems, so much trickier to judge the situations, to know how much conversation someone would be interested in, to choose who to try connecting with for real, amongst all those people who seem to only be comfortable doing small talk and don’t want to leave the comfort zone of platitudes and talking about the weather and… sorry, I’m just so rubbish at small talk, and I get tongue-tied when people ask me the most normal questions like what sort of week have you had – I never remember off the top of my head what sort of week I’ve had, most of the interesting stuff in my life happens either online or inside my head so it’s hard to know what to say. For a socially awkward penguin person like me, online communication is a life saver. And it’s very very real.

2 thoughts on “Welcome to the real world

  1. Well said. Online socialisation has helped me through many a difficult time with support and friendship at any hour of the day and night and not just the ‘real life’ acceptable times.

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