Internet, Strangers and Real life

I was reading something on the internet about why we talk to strangers online, but not in life. It was a good question and many of the answers were inane. One comment said that it was because we could pick the topics to discuss. If you engaged with a random stranger at the restaurant then you might find you have nothing to discuss. True and true, but I got to thinking about how much social media has changed human interactions. Here are my thoughts:

  1. Random strangers. Yes we do talk to random strangers online. While I do know a majority of my “friends” or “followers” I don’t know them all. Yet I will happily engage in a conversation with a stranger. Myself, I am always excited to meet someone, whether on line or in real life.  Yes, I am that annoying person who will talk to you while waiting in the grocery line.  I have no problem making acquaintances and that follows me into social media. I do know people who have rules though. They will only friend people who are friends of their friends or they know them or they will help them in business, etc. I have some friends who only friend people who have the same life experiences, IE have been in the military, are musicians, etc. Me? Bring it on, I friend everyone and end up deleting most. There is online, like in real life, those predators who are just looking for money, sex, etc. Then there are those who are just plain crazy or rude. It seems harder to avoid those online than in real life. In real life you don’t go down the alleys or into the bad part of town at night. Online they look normal at first.  This brings me to the next point.
  2. Making friends. The remark I read said you can pick your topic. What if you talked to the person next to you in the restaurant and you had nothing in common? I guess if you were a bit awkward or shy that might present a social challenge. I mean what if you don’t like each other? Chances are you will run into each other again and then what do you do? Do you talk, do you say hi or do you never go to the restaurant again in the off chance you are there at the same time? All that is removed by social media and the ability to defriend, unfollow or even block someone. Walla. Out of your life. You can’t see them they can’t see you, problem solved. How easy was that?
  3. How easy was that? Unlike real life, the ability to block someone has given most of us a very small circle. Perhaps not in numbers, but in mindsets. I know of folks who block anyone who doesn’t agree with them. In fact, I ended up defriended a person who demanded that anyone who didn’t agree with them defriend themselves. So I did.  That is something I do not understand. When you go to work, the club, parties, other social gatherings there is a ton of people who probably do not agree with you ( unless you are at a political convention or something).  That does not stop you from going to those places are talking to people. Why is it different on social media? Not a shrink, but I say it is because it is one place you can control the contacts.  You can have folks who agree with your stance period and have no opposition from anyone. The king or queen of your internet castle.
  4. Rudeness. This is a topic that just baffles me. I was taught that you were extra nice and polite to strangers.  You used your manners and you used all of your social skills. Not online. Somehow it has become ok to talk to others however you want, whether you know them or not. I would never walk into a room of people and start cursing at them because I disagreed with something they said. You can on the internet. It has become perfectly normal to think only your opinion is the right one and anyone who disagrees are not worthy of your politeness. Because we can control who we talk to and many have circles of friends who agree with everything they say. A disagreeing or questioning voice is not welcomed and is to be run out of town with fouls words.  It is impossible to form an intelligent opinion of something without having all the facts. Refusing to engage those on the other side of your view is juvenile. In plain words it is impossible to have a discussion with certain people on line.
  5. Spill over into real life. Much of what I talked about has spilled over not real life. People are now perfectly ok defending their opinions at all costs. They feel that what they want, they feel or think is the most important thing in the universe. We even have talk shows where their opinion is the one that matters, be it political, social, medicine or you name it. I can think of three show that featured people sitting around a desk discussing their opinions,

 

These are just my thoughts and experiences. I have been called more names on the internet then I have in my entire life.  Sometimes it is warranted, but can tell you that most times it is not. The language used is atrocious and misplaced. Trust me I am no angel and I do tend to curse, but mostly in real life and not on the web. I think it is time to get back to social politeness. Perhaps then people can quit being so angry.