June 15, 2010 Are you there world, it’s me Lara

I had this thought last night, sometime after the magic hour, that went around in my head like a whirly gig for far too long. In this weird world of online social networks, if you don’t have a profile on at least one of them do you still feel like you exist? Are you part of this modern society? And at some point in the future, will an online profile be the only real proof of your life? 

I have a friend who has, for many years now, sworn that online social networking is the community building of the future. Online communities can solve our feelings of isolation and distance. She believes that people today can find that elusive feeling of belonging in a group online that they may not be able to find offline. But is that true? There are people who say they feel it is, but I’m not really sure if I believe them. Until those online groupings turn into real life meetings, are we really making a connection or is our idea of what belonging to a group, or being heard changing? 

I have been blogging and twittering for a little while – and not as often as the publicists and marketing people say I should – but I am still not convinced. Yes, there is a surge of satisfaction from an immediate reply to a blog or a tweet, that feeling that someone has heard you, that you are not shouting into the void – but more often that not I feel like those small contacts are feeding a kind of addiction that in the end just isn’t really satisfying. If there is a lack of comments on blogs, an absence of friend comments on facebook or no one replying to your tweets there is an element of feeling invisible. A feeling that you are being left out of the party. So are we just creating another, virtual arena that recreates isolation online? Are people who are really lonely and looking to the net to fill the void finding something that helps them, or is it only a panacea that if taken away leaves them even more alone than before?