A final post.

04.3.09

My final post has gradually been working up to a post about myself. Sort of. Specifically, social media and me. Might as well break the rules at the last moment!

Throughout the class, as we went through, there were so many things that I thought were interesting. As a person who’s been part of the internet sphere for so many years, it was refreshing to be part of a discussion with people who dealt with the internet differently; who didn’t live on the internet as I do. And, often, I wanted to share something, but not quite enough to actually say it. So – I decided to say what I wanted to say at the last possible moment.

I love the internet. The internet resonates with me. Social networks are part of me. My blog is part of my life. The internet is part of my life. And some people would say that it isn’t real, that it doesn’t actually exist. But it definitely does. It exists, somewhere.

When I was 13, I joined my first chat room and developed friendships there. It’s been years and years and years since the chatroom disappeared, but a month or so ago, a friend from those days found me on facebook. We caught each other up on our lives, reminisced about the good ol’ days, and it was nice. There’s someone else on my livejournal friends list from that same chat room. I’ve e-known him for 8 years, and to me, it feels as real as any friendship that I’ve ever had. I may not never have seen him before, but when the great blackout happened years ago and there wasn’t any power.. you know – anywhere around here… he was the person I called (he was outside of the grid) and he told me what was going on. (and I told my mom, who told her friends, etc. etc.)

Although it isn’t exactly tangible.. what friendship really is?

Spending money for virtual things sounds silly… but isn’t spending money on most things kind of silly? There are so many things that we own that don’t have any value. And sure – being able to hold it in your hand makes it feel real, makes it feel as if it’s something that you own, but really – it doesn’t mean anything. A person can buy a television for $1000, or buy a similar one for $2000 – they’re the same thing. A person may pay $30 dollars for a pair of jeans, or $300 for a pair of jeans. The brand name costs a lot of money – and, that’s pretty intangible.

We’re surrounded by things that are frivolous, useless, things we didn’t need to buy, but that we wanted. And I think that the same can be said for the internet.

I’m not saying it’s right, but I’m saying that there are things in the real world that are equally as silly, equally as intangible. Although it feels satisfying to be able to hold something, that shouldn’t be a defining quality of whether or not something is worth something. Because, at the end of the day, most of the things we own are things that make us happy, and nothing more. So, who’s to say that buying an online plot of land isn’t a proper way to spend ones money?

Citizen media is real. It’s real people dealing with real things. Social networks are real, even though they’re on the internet. Everything that happens on the internet happens in real life – in a different way. We know it happens, and knowing – to me, makes it real.

I’ll avoid an epistimological debate on existence (although I can’t help but ask – how do we know anything exists?) and leave it at that. But, I think it’s important to consider that the internet world as a real world, that things happening on the internet happen there – as if it’s a place. It isn’t – I know that. And I know it can disappear at any moment. But I have faith in the gods of the internet (and capitalism) that it will stay, and we will continue to integrate our lives with it. (and, that it’ll probably become more and more real as the world get smaller and smaller.)

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