Electronic front porch or something else….

I will admit I am an internet junkie, I spend way too much time online. It started almost 10 years ago when I was contemplating going natural (translation, no more chemical relaxers in my hair), at that time I knew no one in my day to day life who was natural and needed some support. Since the first time I tried to dread my hair at 18, it was a failure since I didn’t know at that time that dreads on relaxed hair don’t work. (I basically was just washing and going with no combing…it was a hot mess)

So almost 10 years ago I came across an online community of women of African descent who were either natural or also contemplating the move. It was a great little community and allowed me to also connect with women who lived in Chicago as well so I could get some live examples. At that point in time, my internet usage was still pretty tame since I was in Chicago and not relying on the net to fill any voids in my life.

Then 7 years ago we moved to Maine and a sista was lonely with a capital L, starting all over 1100 miles from family and friends is no joke, despite daily calls back home, the only person I talked to daily face to face was the spousal unit…it was a rough time.

A year after the move was when my Mom got diagnosed with cancer and thus started the journey that ended with her death 8 months after being diagnosed. By then the sistas from my online discussion group really did become my support, after her death the women from our board organized and sent a gift to help my family out since they knew that my Dad was out of work and I had been helping my folks out.

It was after my Mom’s death that I truly knew the women in my group were not just online folks but many are indeed friends, I know that I can travel to anyplace and if there is a sista from our group, I won’t be alone. In fact early in my time here in Maine, a sista came through and we got together.

That said as my time in Maine goes on, I reached a point where clearly I needed to find some real life buddies and in 7 years I will say that I have built a decent support group, though sadly one of my dearest friends is getting ready to relocate to southern New England. She is one of my few Black girl friends here and to say I am dreading the day she leaves is an understatement.

Now I shared all this to say that I clearly see real value in using the internet as a sociliazing tool, even Facebook has allowed me to reconnect with old friends, so despite the many changes even Facebook serves a purpose.

However I must admit that as of late it bothers me how may folks use the internet to connect with versus face to face interactions, actually a dear real life friend admitted she sees Facebook as an electronic front porch of sorts…I don’t know but I don’t quite see it the same way.

I fear that as we gravitate to using text messages and mediums such as Twitter and Facebook, that it has the ability to take away from the human experience of connecting. Lately I have noticed that on Friday and Saturday nights I find myself online chatting with folks who are only 10-15 miles away from me and that just seems strange. No one can find the time to get together for a coffee or drink but we are all sitting in our respective homes on our computers chatting and while there is nothing wrong with that, I remember as a child that on weekends my folks had friends over or we went to visit others.

I sense we are losing a piece of our humanity by reducing ourselves down to digestable soundbytes to the point that even I have noticed my attention span is not what it used to be and that scares me.

While I realize I would never want to go back to life without this amazing technology, lets also not forget the value in really reaching out and connecting to one another.

Have a happy weekend and welcome Spring!

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