If I'd had a personal computer before I met and married TG, I'm not sure the wedding would have happened.
Don't get me wrong--I adore TG way more than my computer (honest, honey!). I'm just not sure I would have been out in the world enough to even meet him. I would have been online, writing away in the cyber world, instead wiggling my bait onstage at Melodrama Theater.
As much as technology brings people together who might never have met otherwise, I have to wonder how much it also keeps people apart.
Online friendships are easy. You connect at your convenience with like-minded people. Unlike in real life, you can hit pause when the other person gets annoying, or when you feel yourself on the verge of becoming annoying yourself. You only have to show the Best o' You to the online world. Frankly, it's a pretty good gig.
Real life relationships are a bit trickier. It's not as easy to disguise your warts.
Having a bad hair day? No hiding behind that convenient avatar in real life. (Trust me. You do not want to know what I look like right now.)
Feeling particularly snarky? In the actual world, you can't edit the bitchiness that comes out of your mouth before you hit "send."
Attacked by The Dumb? No closing that laptop and laying low offline until your usual smarts return. No pretending that "snappy" comeback didn't take you half an hour to perfect.
Which is a real (*ahem* get it?) shame, when you think of it. Wouldn't it be cool if all those protective shields the internet supplies somehow applied in real life, too?
Like when you oversleep and don't have time to wash your hair, much less iron your clothes. No worries! The world would only see the self-approved version of you that you settled on one morning when you woke up on time and dressed in clothes you had the foresight to iron the night before.
Or when you get drunk at the company party and make a pass at the boss. You could just claim some practical joker "hacked your account." Instant plausible deniability. Or even delete your identity and reinvent yourself as a whole new persona. TADA! Problem solved.
Alas, that's just a pipe dream. You are what you are in real life, without ready do-overs or much leeway to pretend to be someone you're not.
But there are some advantages to keeping it real. When you make a love connection in the real world, you can at least be certain the person looks (mostly) like what you're seeing, and isn't (like TG used to warn me when I was first getting into online writing communities) really a 52-year-old fat man sitting at his computer in nothing but his boxers, drinking a beer.
I think there's something to be said for that kind of certainty.
What do y'all think? Is the internet more of a barrier or a bridge to good interpersonal relationships?