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Disconnecting Online and the socially retarded

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Buzz Publications
April 2, 2006


Recently, during a rant on the collapse of community, I had an epiphany. Computers are making people cyber junkies and social retards. Yes, computers are wonderful, highly advanced, utilitarian electronics, but how soon before the tool becomes the master. Cold and calculated, computers are changing the way people relate to one another. Sadly, some are losing the ability too interact without technology as a buffer.

Be afraid, be very afraid.

Not a technophobe, certainly not a technophile, when it comes to cyber social scenes like My Space, Craig's List, and eHarmony.com, I fall squarely in the Luddite camp. That said; allow me then to take up the wooden shoe and tinfoil hat to declare the obvious. Cyber-generated relationships are the illegitimate progeny of George Orwell's Big Brother and the Wachowski brothers' Matrix.

Heavy right?

As a Virgo, I must constantly temper my sense of superiority. Always analyzing how the world works, judgments have to be made. Through prolonged observations, and inquisitive probing, I have learned things originally registering as harmless, may in fact hide more sinister and insidious traits and behaviors. Sometimes the man behind the curtain is a monster laying in wait for the trusting and naive.

Take for example Brian J. Doyle, the Department of Homeland Security's deputy press secretary. Facing charges for seducing someone he thought was a 14-year-old girl over the Internet, on the government dime. The perfect analogy for the threat posed to those reaching out to absolute strangers, hoping to stumble into a perfect relationship without physical relating. The 55 year-old Doyle should know better than most, the lack of protections available to those wishing to connect on line sight unseen.

Cyber relationships take people out of the here and now, in favor of there and then, with a few keystrokes. Distance based intimacy is an illusion made possible by instant messaging, global networking possibilities, and the collective failure of people to interact with strangers in real time, up close and personal, though evolutionary proven means.

One can only imagine the self-inflicted psychological and psychosocial damage done by those addicted to Internet porn, and pseudo-sexual role-playing accomplished alone in front of a non-discriminating technological peephole. What could easily be defined as cyber masturbation is instead marketed as a progressive community of next wave thinkers, and not a self selected collection of emotional wallflowers?

Time spent building virtual communities takes time away from developing lasting friendships at work, church, school, and other civic endeavors. Because people have only so much time, and so much brain space, in which to accommodate new information. Time spent glued to a computer, creating lists of likes and dislikes, to attract other virtual voyeurs, results in diminished efforts to connect to real people, in real time, with real neighbors living next door, across the hall, or down the hall.

The migration into cyber generated virtual villages, means the physical realm of flesh and blood interactions, along with centuries of social and cultural protocols, well be abandoned for the impersonal illusions of a carefully crafted common space. Herded like sheep to slumber, cyber communities are ripe for harvest by Big Brother and the corporate capos of Madison Avenue and the mall that is America.

I wonder if the members of the My Space cult realize their space is a government domain of marketing surveillance and data mining. With every click and paste, with every file share, with every smiling photo, My Spacers expose themselves to a host of unseen dangers, impersonal advances, crafty con, and cyber stalkers.

Prompting these observations is the growing legion of online zombies, and socially stunted retards, shuffling through the real world on their way to a virtual reality of their own making. Unwilling or unable to interact with people not fitting into narrowly defined concepts of community, Cyber citizens further disconnect from their actual communities, shedding social graces as they go.

As daunting and depressing as it may be, the real world is far more preferable than the Kool-aid collective being socially engineered by the mullahs of marketing and the social retarded. Suffice it to say My Space will never be my space.

As long as there are public spaces free of the matrix where intelligent beings can congregate without a technological filter, I will always chose human interaction over virtual unreality.

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