Monday, August 20, 2007

My Friend Roper

How do we refer to our online “pleasant acquaintances?” GMRoper left a mental health anecdote that will quite obviously find a place to be told at the hospital I work in. How do I introduce that? “A friend of mine tells a story about…” is a lot closer to the emotional content than “I read online…” But in honesty, I wouldn’t know Roper if we shared a ditch in a tornado, even though I have seen a picture of him and have some idea how his personality works. It seems like a dangerous step downward to be refering to “friends” that you’ve actually never conversed with. It’s reminiscent of having imaginary pals that you talk to, and the neighbors pity you for being such a lonely guy.

I could reframe it as an evolutionary step up for humankind, to achieve friendship via the essentials of personality rather than the accident of proximity. Hmm.

I am being light-hearted here, but I think there is a serious issue underneath it. Communication and interaction have changed rapidly, and the trend is likely to continue. Will we need the people in our immediate vicinity less and less over the century, as people increasingly go to work and school online and do their socialization alone in their dens? That’s much more social than living in a dispersed farm community before the advent of telephone and radio, so it’s got to be a plus there. But it is a very different type of socializing from sitting on porches and front stoops in towns, speaking to those with whom you share proximity.

It’s clear I am voting via my actions for more electronic, less protein-based communication. While multiple persons can interact online at the same time in 3-way or 7-way conversations, the technology is still not quite comfortable for that, so the human gathering has not been replaced. But I imagine that’s coming. Who will we be then?


terri said...

(my 3rd comment in the space of ten minutes...that's almost stalkerish...sorry but each of these posts are things I have thought about recently)

The problem with online friendship is the pure mentality of it all. It's great to identify and banter with others, but where are they when you need to move your furniture down three flights of stairs?

(said the woman who spends way too much time online)

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you can call him a virtual acquaintance, whom you hope some day to have as a virtual friend and real-life acquaintance/friend. Much like old friends who live far away, who don't visit (or get visited) with much frequency, but who can't be left off the Christmas card list (except that virtual friends aren't on the Christmas card list).

Anonymous said...

AVI, I was getting ready to come over here but I was going to check my email. My blogging partner Woody alerted me to this post. So, since I'm in the title I get to comment. ;-)

I've always thought of a FRIEND as someone with whom you share personal regard or affection; with whom you share one or more belief systems, that you would gladly buy a beer or a glass of iced tea on a hot day, or someone with a shared outlook (as in "Hey friend, I see you are supporting _____ in the next election. And for sure any combination of two or three of the above)

As often as you have been gracious enough to comment on my blog, in essence agreeing with me more often than not, and the number of times I've tried to do the same here (but often with much less erudition) and considering the distance between New Hampshire and Deep South Texas our relationship seems to at least meet the minimum to be included in the rubric "Friend." Up Close and personal? No. But I think, think mind you, that I've read enough of your writings and seen enough of your comments to know that you would most likely be a really good friend if we lived next door to each other and gossiped over the back yard fence about which psychiatrist did what to who's patient. ;-)

By the way, which anecdote do you want to tell about me?

You can always request via email my cell number then we can chit chat and then you can honestly say" "Hey, I've got this really weird anecdote from another professional I'd like to share with you. This dude lives in Texas, wears boots sometimes and sometimes wears deck shoes with no socks to professional meetings sometimes, has 4 pairs of sandles, is tougher than Lung Cancer and 18 months in full and total remission and is even occasionaly obnoxious. Oh yes, he is not one of the Arts & Humanities Tribe, but he does like some of them."

How cool would that be?

Your Friend, GM Roper!

Woody said...

I consider AVI a friend, too, because he can come to our site and make a comment that makes our post seem that we know what we're talking about.