Studies suggest that many people communicate better through writing than talking. There’s a greater comfort level where folks can relax and express themselves more freely through writing than through talking. Of course this isn’t always good – you also have the online “haters” who have a mean streak a mile wide. I find it doubtful that they would be so bold face to face as they are when leaving brazenly mean and uncalled for comments. But I digress. The point here is that today’s culture loves online chat.
Along those same lines, it is amazing how many “cyber-friends” the average Joe has nowadays. When the internet was still new, many of us laughed at people who were “friends” with people that they’ve never actually met. But now it’s completely normal. I myself have several friends on Facebook that I’ve never met in person. It is a rapidly changing world we live in.
I recently read somewhere that online chat has become so popular that the majority of people who have a computer have software installed that supports chat. Also, a growing number of people are meeting their spouses online via dating sites. Chat rooms and social sites have also evolved into a way for people to promote their businesses; people can communicate with clients and potential clients easily and effectively, and who hasn’t heard of “social media marketing”?
It’s still fairly amazing to those of us who are old enough to remember when microwave ovens were the new technology. And it’s funny to think that many of our kids have grown up with the internet – for them it has been there all along. And don’t even get me started on the whole Facebook phenomenon. I’m now friends with people from High School who I don’t even remember.
VOIP (Voice-Over Internet Protocol) is also on the rise, and the old phone company will soon be a thing of the past (not unlike the postal service). For example, I’m one of many Magic Jack users. Albeit, it’s still not a perfect technology; I have it on a dedicated PC because it is so resource intensive (translation for those who do not speak geek: I use it on a separate computer that is not used for anything else because it will severely slow down your system otherwise). Plus there’s video conferencing – something that was portrayed as “futuristic” when I was a boy.
There is also, unfortunately more need for caution. It’s no longer just the used car salesman misrepresenting that you have to be worried about. Your thirteen year old daughter might make friends online with another thirteen year old girl who is really a forty year old man. And online scams abound and seem to target those who are struggling to get ahead.
There also seems to be a greater “global awareness” than ever before. Sure, we knew before the internet that those other nations were out there – and some of us have even visited some of them. But there was a certain separation – a “detachment” if you would that seems to be going away now.
Today’s world may not be as futuristic as our time had been envisioned by science-fiction writers of yester-year; but it is already vastly different than the world that I knew back in the seventies and even the eighties. The internet has changed the way we think and relate. It has changed the way our world looks on many levels.