Maybe it's too easy to blame the technology and the social change its brought about. I feel like people still do all just hang out in person, have giant groups of friends that actually, for real, no kidding, care what the others feel and experience. My fear is always that it's me. That I'm not cool enough for the group. I used to be the guy surrounded by friends, now I'm the guy that barely spends any time with another human being outside of those I work and live with. High school was the time that I was free to devote all of my energies to cultivating those kinds of friendships, and all the people I wanted to be around did too. We got out of school at 2 fucking PM. I don't even wake up until noon anymore. We had the whole damn day to get up to no good. Now I'm up at 2 AM, alone in my living room, typing words at a glowing screen that no one will ever see.
Even the online experience back then felt like it had more of an audience than it does now. I type things on twitter ALL. DAY. that I never get any feedback on. I used to have conversations with people in the comment sections of these entries. Christ, I used to have Real Conversations with people. I never talk about anything I really care about with anyone anymore. The things I prefer to consume now are things like Giant Bomb because so much of what they do is just people who are passionate about something sitting around and just shooting the shit about it. That's the whole site, that's why they're considered the best. Listening to other people have real conversations has replaced having any of my own.
Life now is just an exercise in floating through the majority of my day to get to the moments I care about. Burning time, always looking for something off in the future that will make me feel anything real. Human beings are social animals, but all I ever feel in social situations anymore is awkard and afraid. Self concious as hell. I mean, I guess I always have to an extent but, I had enough evidence that people actually gave a shit about me to believe it. I'm always so goddamn worried now that I'm bothering people. That I'm being to friendly, or too aloof. It probably doesn't help that I really don't like anyone I work with. I'm on a much smaller team, and everyone on it is really damn strange. Also we're the red-headed stepchild of the company, so no one gives a flying fuck about us unless something goes terribly wrong. So I'm alienated at my shitty, meaningless cubicle job. Not the first person in the world to ever express that notion.
I find moments that make me feel things in videogames and television shows. Songs, podcasts, books on flipping tape. I have to experience emotion by proxy, because I don't have the mirrors of other people in my own life to feel anything real for myself.
This is supposed to be the social age. It's not the information age, everything is about social now.
And I am so lonely.
Can it be that this is really the consequence of social networking? Computers & the Internet were supposed to make things easier so we could spend more time connecting with eachother, but then we moved those connections onto those same computers. Tiny injections of dopamine from likes and retweets and faves have replaced face-to-face contact. Social Networking has removed the humanity from the social animal. The way that people treat eachother online is such a weird, twisted, alien version of how we treat eachother in real life. The cruelest, most vile, hateful shit gets flung around like it is fucking nothing. It's all I can do to become cynical, because the alternative was just utter despair.
I want to believe that maybe VR is going to make a dent in that. Maybe re-introducing some humanity back into how we communicate will bring us back to eachother. If people can enter a virtual space as themselves, realized avatars that can relay the nuances of human communication, maybe we can start to feel a connection with those we communicate with online. Maybe it's a pipedream, but I think it could be a wonderful consequence of an emerging technology.
Because I don't want to abandon technology. For all of this, I wouldn't take back any of it. I still think that instantaneous global communication can help to erase the borders between us, but we must take care that it doesn't replace our humanity, our social needs, with clicks. Because I know how wonderful it can be to feel like you had the eye, for an instant, of someone you really admire. When some celebrity (I don't even know what that word means anymore, but I digress) likes or (hallelugiah) replies to some dumb thing I tweet at them, it feels amazing. The moments we used to wait outside of concerts for, they can happen in a much easier way. But that access is a double-edged sword. Putting aside the online harassment I mentioned earlier, even in an environment where everyone is behaving, it's impossible for so many people to have a real connection with one individual. I'm sure that the people that have 'won' the social networking game feel a different kind of lonliness, but I can't help wishing for an audience.
Because all it ever feels like now is shouting into a void. I always feel like I have so much to say, but no one is ever listening. It's like the party is too crowded and everyone is shouting over eachother, trying to be heard. The things you have to do to stand out on the Internet now require making it a full-time job. The only way to really connect in a sea of people is to build yourself a soapbox out of toothpicks. Newsroom talks a lot about this, and maybe the creator's attitudes towards the Internet rubbed off on me, because it seems like I feel this way more often than not.