Archive for the ‘Computers’ Category

The unbearable lightness of clicking

It’s a seasonal thing. Before, there was myspace.com, now there’s facebook.com, and tomorrow there will be another one, a different one.

Websites that are supposed to connect people. You register, write about yourself, post a picture or two, and then you can invite “friends” or get in touch with “friends”. or do whatever with your “friends”. That’s right, the word “friend” is meaningless here.

Hordes of people register in those sites, each of them has friends. Do these friends actually meet and do stuff together? Usually not. They are just friends there in the virtual world. What is the point of that? What need do I have for some grinning fool to post his picture in my page and call himself a friend? Becuase we both like the Beatless?

You can be on Myspace.com and have a long list of friends. Does it matter? No, it’s meaningless. You still sit at home alone on the weekend. There’s nothing more pathetic than sit alone in your house in front of the computer screen and look at all your “friends”.

Meeting on the Net and in the real world are different as night and day. Look at e-mail, for example. It’s a great tool for connecting people, but also for alienating them. I stopped counting the number of times I sent an e-mail and didn’t recieve a reply. And I’m not talking about e-mails sent to huge corporations which are swamped and can’t possibly answer everyone, but for e-mails sent to individual, private people.

The truth of the matter is that people don’t regard e-mail as an actual mail. It’s much easier to dismiss a pile of words on your computer screen then a physical paper on your desk, which is ironic, since it should be the other way around. After all, with a real letter, you have to put it in an envelope, post stamp it, and go to the mail box. Using your legs. The thing is that an e-mail is a far more widespread form of communication than snail mail ever was. When we used to have pen-pals we waited each day for a letter to arrive, tracking the mail man as he crossed the street to our house. And when we got a letter – oh, what a joy, what a special occasion. It was much harder turning your back to an actual letter. I mean, the person that sent it to you actually sat down, wrote it with a pen or pencil and sent it to you. Actually went ahead and dropped it in the box. That’s got to count for something, doesn’t it?

The internet is simulteaously a great tool for connecting people and alieniting them. E-mails are a woefully impersonal way of communication, and all your friends in “social networks” sites don’t mean shit at the end of the day.

One more peculiar thing with e-mails is the “how to end a correspondence” phenomenon. Many times, when you e-mail back and forth with someone, a conversation forms. And a lot of times it goes on much further than it should have, just because no one really knows how to end it. “Should I be the last to answer? Should I say “Ok, so I’ll talk to you tomorrow?” Usually, it just ends when one side stops writing arbitrarily, making both sides happy in the process. Gee, I tell you. This e-mail thing. Either you write too little or too much. And if you think you can actually know someone through e-mails. think again. I happen to know a person which always ends her e-mails with a smiley, but when you approach her in real life she never, ever smiles!

Don’t get me wrong, socially speaking, the World Wide Web had revolutionised the world. I myself have met some cool people through it which I wouldn’t have met otherwise. People that helped me a great deal, or just people I came to know and be friends with. None of them were friends of mine on Myspace, though. I met them all through message boards and various web sites.

Furthermore, as a screenwriter, I don’t believe in collaborating on a script through the Net – collaborating with a total stranger, that is. This kind of creative link is usually bound to collapse after a short while. You can’t really connect in earnest with some faceless guy sitting behind his desk somewhere. If you want to collaborate, you should meet. Physically. At least once.

People will always be people. No matter what technological advancements we achieve, we crave for the same things people have always craved for. The methods maybe new, but the human psyche will always stay the same.

The Web has brought comfort to many lonley hearts (I haven’t even mentioned dating sites, which I despise, by the way), but in the end it is a hollow, temporary victory. You need to be able to turn the virtual socializing to a real-world socializing in order for it to mean something.

So go out, stand in the sun, feel the wind in your hair, and watch people. Listen to them. Observe them. People-observing is one of the most fascinating things in the world, (do you hear that, all you lost-in-my-ipod folks?)

And who knows, you might find some new friends in the process.  

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