Sunday, January 3, 2010

Does Internet Communication Reduce Face to Face Contacts? Nah and Double Nah!

I have been thinking today about one cliche that absolutely does not hold true for me. Several years ago there was a lot of hoo hah about how the Internet isolates people. The premise was that people were online all the time rather than communicating ftf (face to face), that the art of conversation was dying, that cell phones and computers were turning people into cocooning hermits, yadda yadda. Not so for me! And I bet it isn't true for you either. My experience the last two days is a case in point. Yesterday my dear old dog, Ringo, got sick. Something he ate, I thought, and told myself he would get better like he had always done before. But no, not this time. As the afternoon wore on, he just got worse, My vet does not keep weekend hours but I talked with someone about the emergency clinic in the next town. By the time I got back to Ringo from that call, he was gone. Since losing my husband to cancer and since my daughter lives in Oregon, my household has been just me and the guys, furry guys, for a number of years. I still have my fearless cat Willie, who is intrepid despite only having 3 good legs, and my new guy, a 2 year old lab/cur mix named Son. Still when Ringo was gone I had no one to talk to. That is a lonely feeling. After getting him to the emergency clinic to be dispatched for cremation, I returned to a dark house. I did not really feel like talking to anyone other than my daughter, and turned down an offer for a late supper. After a while I posted to Facebook about my sad news and in no time I had over 20 messages, some from friends and students who knew my old pal, and some from people I have never even met ftf. While surfing the net during the day as I tried to gauge the severity of Ringo's symptoms, I found a number of support groups for people who have lost beloved pets. I don't think I will sign on with one of those, but have in the past benefited from groups supporting caregivers for cancer patients and also for one helping people struggle through the doctoral dissertation process. So if you ask me, the Internet HELPS rather than hinders communication. I feel very fortunate for all my friends, both virtual and real-time. So much for the silliness that online communication detracts from face-to-face. They are two different things entirely, and often one augments the other.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Mary Ann,

    I too have felt my interpersonal life has been richer for having the Internet, especially my professional contacts. In fact, I find it hard to imagine what it was like prior to e-mail, blogs, Nings, Facebook, etc.!

    My sympathies for your pooch. I had to have one of my cats put down a couple months ago and had a scare with the remaining one this week. Our pets help anchor our lives and when we lose one, it is truly a death in the family.

    A happy new year to you!