Steve Ciccarelli takes a look at the World Wide Web and how instant online communication is having an effect on real world communication.
I love the Internet, but all the day-to-day postings are killing this generation’s authenticity.
It seems that every so often I have an existential crisis. I feel as if I’m too old, too jaded and too cynical, or have way too many Extreme Championship Wrestling DVDs in my Netflix queue. The thing I most concern myself with is authenticity. I guess we all do. We’re trying to be the purest versions of ourselves. And we’re trying to post, tweet or update them online.
Recently, I witnessed some underclassmen posing for “candid” Facebook pictures. I stared at them with a “WTF” look on my face. Is this what our generation has become?
We’re stuck behind this glass wall of reality – becoming friends with people on the Internet and never saying a word to their faces. This is the new norm. There were people who added me on Facebook before I even moved into 1300 residence hall my freshman year that I’m still “friends” with but haven’t seen or spoken to in years, if ever. The Internet has literally become an alternate reality.
An ex-friend of mine was one of those people who could not exist without the Internet. While some of us went out and tried to have a life, he would sit alone and post things online, begging and waiting for some sort of response from somewhere out there in the world. But it wasn’t the real world. Sadly, it was his attempt at being social.
I feel less authentic now than I did a decade ago. I feel less authentic now than I did even four years ago. The whole world feels sort of disconnected because we’re bombarded with instant messages, iPods, Windows and smart phones. I imagine Alpha Five running around screaming “Overload,” and lighting up like a Christmas tree fed a diet of fresh water spiked with LSD. My overarching question is this: How much has the Internet hurt our social interactions? How much more are we concerned with perception and forget about reality?
To answer these questions, I’ll talk about Chatroulette, the craze that’s sweeping the whole world (Wide Web).
If you’ve been living under some sort of rock for the past few months, Chatroulette is half pornographic, half self-indulgent and all hilarious. It was created by a student in Russia, with a purpose of making real connections via the Internet. But is it really doing that?
Chatroulette and my ex-friend have a lot in common. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s one of the random dudes you see on there with a sign asking bored girls to flash him. And there are a lot of those. Basically every time you click “Next,” you’ve got a 50/50 chance of seeing a penis.
What it comes down to is loneliness. Our generation is increasingly depressive and jaded. We sit in front of screens all day long – whether they are the screens of a computer or a TV – we are usually alone and longing for something on the other side to be worth it.
Whether it is a group of bored kids just looking for something to do with their time or a lonely guy just staring at his screen to see what comes back to him, we’re all searching for some sort of connection on Chatroulette. We’re grasping for straws to try and make sense of it all.
Technology is speeding up and improving the world, but we’ve all become a little less human in the process. We’re getting closer and closer to having technology integrated into our persons, but no one seems to mind. I long for the days when a 13-inch TV was the peak of entertainment technology, and computers filled whole rooms. At least then we still knew how to interact with each other.
Steve Ciccarelli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.