Sunday, August 11, 2013

Relational Reya

The internet is an ongoing gathering space, a community center that exists outside of time/space. Everyone who has access to a device is invited. Like a community center, each of us can engage at whatever level we want. It is a frontier of interaction that spans the globe. It surely is.

The internet can be a party where it's possible to catch up with people we don't see often because of the limits of time/space. We meet people from all over the world. We chat with individuals, hear about their trip to Greece or see pics of their kids. We listen and sympathize when they're going through hard times, even though there's nothing else we can do. We send love, prayers and dreams out into the world after these interactions, including to/for people we have never met in "real" life. We are generous in these connections. Or - we can be.

A lot of people use the internet to vent - me, too, sometimes. I try not to, because I believe even though what I put out there is only a speck compared to all the information available, it still has impact. When I'm being mindful, what I post here and on FB is meant to provoke curiosity, inspire, hearten. That's the ideal, anyway. I do not always live up to it.

I'm on about this after someone posted a meme about how horrible it is that we can connect through devices. I find it ironic and hilarious that these memes are posted on the internet. They always have a caption about sharing the meme widely - ummm ... over our devices, right? No other way to share unless someone prints a bunch of them, stands at a street corner and passes them out.

Save a tree and distribute more widely than ever possible in the history of humankind by posting on the internet, yes? Yes!

After the Boston Marathon bombings, the police advised people to use their social networks - FB and Twitter - to let people know they were ok. Incredible that the citizens of Boston could post once or twice, not have to answer or make dozens of phone calls, or email everyone on their list. All they had to do was use the public broadcast system of the internet. Brilliant.

The internet is still free space in the U.S. Anthony Weiner posted pictures of his schlong, for heaven's sake. (I do not think this is a wise use of the free space, by the way, and no I haven't seen them and I do not want to.) One of the great things about the internet is that you can experience it in any way you want. Don't care to see Weiner's dick? You don't have to! Someone posting things that offend you? Hide them, or limit posts from them or unfriend them. It's all optional. I love that.

Anyone can post anything they like. This fact provides the opportunity to learn the art of discernment. We no longer have the luxury of accepting whatever is out there, like we did with Walter Cronkite, for instance. We have to question, we have to be skeptical, we have to think when we see something out there. We have to ask, is this for real? Fact checker companies are booming, for good reason.

Welcome to the internet

Swallowing what is handed to you without questioning is a really bad pattern. We can break that passive behavior by questioning, by researching. Oh the hoaxes! Oh the misattributed quotes! Oh my. They are artful reminders that our ability to wonder and question is one of our greatest gifts. We don't have to be so gullible.

Yes it can be boring, trivial, of course it can. It is not edited or manipulated to make it more interesting. It's the raw feed of contemporary culture in my society and many others as well.

I could go on but you probably get my point. The internet invites us to connect on a scale never before imagined or possible. There are so many of us now. Making these connections is a part of how we will take our next evolutionary jump, which we'd better get ready to do. The climate is changing and we must respond somehow. Or else.

I respect everyone and anyone who does not want to take part. You don't have to.

Me? I wouldn't miss it for the world. I love the connections and interconnections, I am in awe of the world wide neural net of connection we are establishing. It's crazy, unprecedented. I feel lucky to put in my 2 cents. Hell yeah.


Susan Carpenter Sims said...

Yes, yes, and yes! And for a research junkie like me, the Internet is heaven on "earth."

Linda Sue said...

snopes is good usually. and other research options for things posted that make the rafters rattle.

Reya Mellicker said...

They surely do!

I use snopes but also troll different kinds of sites before reposting. I don't catch every hoax, but it's fun to try.

Kerry said...

All true. I love having so much information at my fingertips. But I do kinda miss Walter Cronkite who seemed like such a wise fatherly fellow.

Steve Reed said...

I'm torn about it. I feel a nostalgia for the days when we had to be more deliberate in our communication -- calling someone, writing a letter, making a visit. Not that we can't do that now, but I find that I have slipped into a passive role with many of my friendships, just tracking people on Facebook without actually exchanging direct and personal greetings. You know?

At the same time, though -- YES, the Internet really is miraculous, and it continually bowls me over that we have such easy access to information exchange.

I suppose like most things, there are pluses and minuses. Speaking of distributing things via printing, did you read the story about the guy in Mexico City whose proposal for an art project is to print the ENTIRE INTERNET? People have been begging him not to, for environmental reasons.

Marian Wiseman said...

Good essay, Reya.

Reya Mellicker said...

Thanks, Marian.

No Steve, I hadn't heard. Well - wow! Hope he doesn't. There isn't that much paper in the world.

Kerry said...

What? There isn't that much on the internet worth printing that hasn't already been printed before.