I made a case to my 91 year old Grandfather that social media and ‘life online’ has been, for me anyway, a 100% positive experience that has added depth and breadth to my own knowledge & network making things possible now that weren’t before. 4 years of isolation and then a seamless reentry into a life I left behind are only one testament to this perspective. If we discount the handful of less-than-awesome internet dates, I could stand by this sentiment and still easily defend the position. Though I live and preach transparency and have a robust life online, I will not pretend that there aren’t downsides.
In particular, I see a new layer of living that isn’t quite grounded in 3 dimensions or cyberspace – a netherworld where new friendships seem to be still-born and old friendships go to expire. Flirtation that has no intention of ending with dinner and dinner plans that revolve amongst calendars attached to phantoms. This in-between place has an atmosphere that allows superficiality to flourish and flakiness to function as a standard operating procedure. The life happening here is real enough to occupy thoughts, direct action and inspire though it simultaneously demands quick dismissals and casual acceptance of behavior that would not hold up when exposed to eye contact. Something about digital connections allows them to be held by totally new standards. We are on a frontier and there are only a few sheriffs and very few laws. Etiquette is being reinvented as we speak and human interaction is molting like an old python. I’ve been lucky to see real fruit bloom from cyber seeds though my feeling is that this non-landscape is less fertile than it used to be, the netherworld or cloud is now a legitimate state and the expectation that rain will fall from the cloud is outdated. A paradigm shift is in order.
Or a reprioritization, perhaps.
Anyway, I could rattle on about that for ages but instead I’ll share an example of when a digital friend escapes the fiber and emerges as one of the best tour guides Memphis has ever seen. Ween and Facebook were the red threads that helped me get to know Johnny but 3 days together in Memphis are what made him my friend. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves and just say that I had a wonderful adventure in Tennessee…