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Web 2.0. It really has changed the internet. At least the definition of the new web being a participatory thing where users create the content. That is one aspect of it. The other is the social networking “phenomenon”. This aspect has created an extreme shift in how people use the internet. From forums and chat-rooms to Facebook and MySpace. From private to public. From anonymous to “real”. But is this really a good way to have social interactions with people?

Instead of nicknames like MollyRulez34!, we put ourselves real names in sites like Facebook. We put our real photos for our avatars. It seems that the age of anonymity is long gone. But these code packets that come through your ethernet or wireless connections displayed in your web browser are only representations of people. There really more a “persona”, than a “real” person. Sure, a lot of them are sharing their life experiences, but their probably like the rest us. Just like as the majority of people waiting in line in a bank. No talking. Reserved. Not attracting unnecessary attention.

The web is still pretty much an impersonal thing. Social networking sites will never replace the person to person experience. Even phone conversations are more personal than the internet. Video chatting is a little more personal and it’s a safe bet that not many people are live streaming their life. People are mostly reserved and that’s just way to personal. That kind of medium takes a lot of people out of their comfort zone. That’s why text is the way most people interact. That’s something that a lot can handle.

Real life out there in the world most of the time feels a little uncomfortable. You can’t edit or delete your comments. Most of the time you don’t have time to think up an answer or comment. That’s why it’s so silly to believe that you’re the same online as in real life. You can’t. It may be part of your personality, but not the whole you. This delusion feels real and being attacked and criticized “personally” feels real, but that’s over as soon as you close that laptop lid or turn off that monitor.

I’m not saying that the possibility of people hurting you seriously online are not real. Neither that you can’t have meaningful interactions with people online. But the social interactions you have outside in the physical world are way more complex, richer and bigger than social networking online.

The video below describes the differences between real life and the internet. Enjoy.

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