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!

7 thoughts on “Electronic front porch or something else….”

  1. I totally understand what you’re saying. When I first moved here, the first thing I was doing was looking to connect by meeting folks online. That seemed to be the simplest way to find people with similar interests. But then we started to get involved with the Y, and I started working and slowly, we’re building up our little community. I’m spending less time online…and I like it!

  2. I’m so with you girl . . . these days I’m all about real life connecting. I’ve read two books about the post-oil/post-technology age and the thing that stands out to me most is the importance of community. Not online communities . . . real “I help you and you help me” communities.

    Btw . . .like the new layout.

  3. hi there,
    we at raven’s eye (raveneye.org) would love to crosspost your piece. this month our theme is community and we feel that this fits perfectly. please let us know if we can crosspost by emailing us at ravenseyeblog@gmail.com.
    thank you.

  4. I hope you guys do it. It was lots more doable for us once we let go of it having to be “just so” and popping in some movies for the tots and accepting that kids would be messy. I do agree that face to face doesn’t hold a candle to online contact.

  5. Lolo, what you described is what I remember about my childhood. On weekends people would come over or we would go over their houses and if the kids fell asleep, I remember being carried to the car.

    Anyway its that type of connection that I think many of us have gotten away from. Serenebabe who is a real life friend mentions the kids are a barrier to getting together. I know that I most certainly say that often, but now I am starting to question that.

    I keep thinking that even with kids why can’t get we get together on a Sat night? Anyway I love the ideal of casual get togethers and may try something like that here.

  6. As a way to make up for not meeting out for dinners and drinks, we’ve taken to having small dinners with friends at our homes. Kids are welcomed and we all either cook together or bring dishes to add to the main and scrounge up whatever is cheapest at the wine store.

    We’ve taken to calling it “Happy Saturday” or sometimes “Fuck Last Week Was HARD”. The aim is to see a few friends, as low stress as we can make it, and easy, eeeasy on the wallet. It’s funny how much we can enjoy meatloaf or whatever as long as we can hang out and laugh or moan about the state of things.

  7. But we can’t go out at night with little ones at home, so chatting with someone 10 minutes away online is better than not at all, no?

    For me, as long as my face-to-face life is rich (it is), I take everything I can get from my online one.

    That said, I miss your face. 🙂

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