By Kenneth Justice
“There’s just something indescribable about sitting across from someone; something you can’t recreate via a letter or the Internet” he said
~ I was sitting at coffee yesterday with a good friend of mine who was asking me about my recent Coffee House trip to Pittsburgh, “What stands out the most to you about each of your trips so far” he asked
And as I thought about his question I realized that hands down it has to be the people; “Sure it’s been fun seeing different cities each weekend, but its meeting fellow bloggers, readers, and the random strangers I encounter on each of my trips that is standing out to me the most” I said
All week long I’ve been writing on different themes connected to Western Culture and community. The bottom-line is that whether we like it or not; the Internet exists as a major source of community for millions of people throughout the Western World. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other Websites have become an integral component in the way we connect with friends, family, co-workers, acquaintances, and everyone else in-between.
And while I appreciate the positive aspects of the Internet (without it you wouldn’t be reading this article) my coffee house trips each weekend have been a unique opportunity for me to meet with people face-to-face and in many cases it has been a way for me to put a ‘face’ to names I see on my screen each morning as I read the comments to my articles.
As my friend said yesterday, “There’s just something indescribable about sitting across from someone; something you can’t recreate via a letter or the Internet”. Meeting people in ‘real life’ at coffee houses has been an opportunity for me to see friendships develop into deeper connections than before, when I only knew people via our Internet connection.
The interaction I’ve had with a number of fellow bloggers post-meeting them in real life has been pretty dramatic; people who I considered ‘close acquaintances’ via our Internet connection….I now consider to be my ‘friends’ thanks to our real-life meetings.
All this brings me to a simple truth; as much as I am thankful for what the Internet has enabled us to do, it will never replace true face-to-face relationships.
—-) Internet dating will never be as thrilling as a real-life date
—-) Facebook friendships will never be as emotionally fulfilling as a real life friends whom we sit together with at coffee
—-) Cyber-sex will never be as good as the real thing
The most notable difference between our Internet persona’s and who we really are is that the Internet simply can’t recreate the indescribable (almost pseudo-spiritual) experience of being next to each other in person. The language I use in my writing for instance is often a tad bit different than the way I speak in real life.
And yet, even though nothing I’m saying is all that remarkable…..every day children and teens across the Western World become more and more dependent on the Internet and social networks than the previous generations before them.
Despite the fact that we all know how important it is for us to have good interpersonal skills and connections with each other in real life; young men and women are increasingly becoming entirely dependent on the Internet to facilitate their connections.
A 30-something reader of mine in Pittsburgh, who asked that I not mention their name publicly, admitted to me that without the Internet they have no clue how to meet someone in order to date,
“If it wasn’t for the Internet I wouldn’t even know where to meet a woman or how to ask her out. Every date that I’ve ever been on has been through Internet dating sites” he said
So in this man’s life; the Internet has been a positive force in his life in helping him to develop connections with women. But is that a total net positive or net negative? Has the Internet created a generation of men who don’t know how to strike up an intelligent conversation with a woman at a coffee shop or in a public place? Is the Internet literally destroying the art of unrehearsed conversations and unrehearsed connections that occur in everyday situations?
As with most topics related to Western Culture I’m left with more questions than answers. Yet ultimately, I am thankful for this opportunity to travel throughout the year meeting with as many of you as possible!
If you live in the Philadelphia area and are interested in sharing a cup of coffee and conversation about life, culture, art, or whatever happens to be on your mind I will be arriving this weekend, it would be great to meet you.
Categories: Culture & Society