All things come to a beginning

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Opinion piece

"About five years ago I was checking my email in a cybercafe in Sydney. Being nosey, I began sneaking discreet peeks at my neighbours' computer screens. On my left, an American backpacker was writing to a man she'd met in India, debating whether they should arrange to meet again and take their relationship further or whether they should leave it as it was, as a Bogart-and-Bergman we'll-always-have-Dharamsala memory. On my right, a man in a turban was writing to a woman not his wife about how his wife did not understand him. It struck me that everybody on the net is sitting alone at a computer screen, and many of them are wishing they weren't alone, while also, often, in some deep way, preferring that they are alone and being nervous of the alternative. Sit someone at a computer screen and let it sink in that they are fully, definitively alone; then watch what happens. They will reach out for other people; but only part of the way. They will have "friends", which are not the same thing as friends, and a lively online life, which is not the same thing as a social life; they will feel more connected, but they will be just as alone. Everybody sitting at a computer screen is alone. Everybody sitting at a computer screen is at the centre of the world. Everybody sitting at a computer screen, increasingly, wants everything to be all about them. This is our first glimpse of what people who grow up with the net will want from the net. One of the cleverest things about MySpace is the name".



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