Sunday, November 06, 2005

Real Life Is Always Worse

Real Life Is Always Worse

Real Life Is Always Worse (2005)

Here's a new image that wonders: real life vs. online existence. What's the dif?

Everyone's avatar has an opinion. ExpectNothing! says:

There are so many people online that internet people are easily replaced. One disappears and another fills their place. So I rarely am bothered if one disappears or I have to remove one or cut off the contact. You can easily find someone else to fill their [sic] role...

...I’m an arrogant ahole online. In real life I’m a nice shy guy in real life except in the car. Skullder is very cool in real life but kinda lame online. Many people I know are cool online or in real life but often not both at once. The internet isn’t a good representation as to how people are. You can get away with anything and people know that and act accordingly.

So, online acquaintances are cannon fodder. I think I'd rather hang with Skullder. But girlwonder notes:

maybe some of the disconnect is over real life vs. online life. i'm thinking of the movie home page, i'm thinking of the fact that the cyborganic community is what brought me from new york to california when i was 24, and that the tendrils of that community continue to permeate my personal and professional life. that this crossover is still so weird and vital. and there are people with whom i communicate that i've never met. and i've fallen in love online, and in words, across the world and in my hometown.

I like the term cyborganic. It makes me think of grains and beans...or teledildonics. Whichever. Meanwhile, from the Anthony Robbins Web Community, jennihul speculates:

don't think there is a shred of difference between meeting someone online and in so-called "real life." The difference is, I believe, that people who are looking online for someone special MAY, just may be, looking for a quick-fix, magic bullet type of relationship that can "save" them from the rigors of the dating scene. That is a huge mistake. The MEETING part is like a molecule of the whole process.

Online meeting (I don't even think it should be referred to as "dating") increases the odds of finding someone matchy [sic] and appealing, on paper. The true test of any budding relationship, whether face to face or online is the chemistry. The little nuances, habits, beliefs, pheromones, styles, behaviors, etc. As far as it being safer vs. more fraught with peril is irrelevant. Psychos are everywhere. The vast majority of people wouldn't qualify as sociopathic but wacky, weird and plain freaky people are common.

Hmmm. Check out some wingnut blogs if you want to learn more about people as molecules. The sociopathic rate is probably well above average at these sites, too. Still, digital diversity observes:

The difference between online and "real life" identities stems from the fact that, online, you can be largely whoever you want. There is a large amount of anonymity that one can work with when choosing who they want to be portrayed as when they are online. People virtually have the choice (although it might not be considered largely moral or right) whether they are going to "be" someone totally different than they are in real life.

For one, when I go online, I feel like I am less inhibited than when I am talking to people on a face to face basis. I am more able to get out what I want to say because I am able to use the gaps in conversation to think of what I would like to get across to the people/person I am talking to. There is also the faceless nature of online chatting that makes it easier to talk to people when they cant see you or judge you based on your appearance or other things that real life encounters are more based on.

[...]

All in all, I would say that, when talking to people online, someone can create a character that is based on them, but inhabits characteristics that they would wish to have. It is, essentially, a more perfect version of reality. When you are talking to people who you never plan to meet, it is easy to fib and bend reality a little to make yourself either more of what you feel that they want, or more of what you feel you should be. It is a way to be more of what you want to be rather than what you are.

I'm me -- a self-made product that's new and improved. Project away. Let that Id rumble. And judge not, as Shiva on Heroes Community declares:

A few things, first regarding real life vs online. Sure, there are differences, but you can't have anarchy. Thus an arbitrary set of rules called the COC. And respect does matter anywhere you are. If you lose that, well, its all over. It may be online is a kind of pseudo-life, but I think it's just an extension of life. In other words, it's just part of the same life we call real life. So to those who say if we can't handle it here, we can't handle it in real life, let me echo Hexa and say, in real life, Stiven would have had his legs broken, then his teeth stuffed down into his toes. If he ever talked like that to anyone in the flesh, his flesh eventually would be rather fractured. Someones [sic] brother would take him out, someones [sic] friends would teach him some manners.

I'd like to go on record for really disliking having my flesh fractured. That sounds even more painful than Zappa's observation that weasels ripped my flesh. Not that we need medical comparisons, unless you take your imagined self over to Jugglezine -- where Caroline Leavitt recounts in "Virtually Connected":

Dr. Jerry Gale, director of family therapy at University of Georgia's Department of Child and Family Development, who logs time on adoption listservs, compares virtual community relationships to courtships. He advises taking it slow. "The next step from posting is private e-mailing," says Gale, "and then, as you become more comfortable, online goes into phone lines -- you call and get the voice. Then you get the meeting. And that's when a cyber relationship moves into a real one."

What will happen next is anyone's guess. Gans's favorite regular at The Well later became his wife. And at Readerville, project manager Debi Carey tumbled into love with poster Russell Rowland. "It never occurred to me to question what I was feeling in terms of real life vs. online community," Carey says. "Probably because I'm so much myself online." Propelling the couple along were delighted Readervillians ("Our first romance!" posters crowed), a welcome respite from the skepticism of Carey's offline community.

Office gossip cynical? The steno pool is shallow compared to the cyberocean? Well, there's always the chance of rehabilitation. Justin recants on Swing Talk:

Can we officially end the groove-bashing thread? I had an epiphany and am now renouncing my mr.asshole-online-identity.

Jeez, I can be such a jerk online. But you gotta admit, some people got a bit too nitpicky with me. If you know me in real life, you know that this real-life vs. online thing is all a Jeckyl [sic] and Hyde act. To all those whose feelings I hurt by bashing groove, please accept my apologies.

No serum needed. Just an Internet provider -- and you too can become an instant monster -- bashing away without the RL constraints of propriety or the physical chance of having the side of your head knocked.

And, oh, let's not forget the Bushless World I can construct online. That cinches it. Real life is always worse.

6 comments:

Tim said...

Great post. For me, the blog Fractal Burka revealed the shallowness and pointlessness of most online communities. The environment is too much like a street corner and so it can easily be sabotaged or hijacked.

Somewhere someone posted in a forum telling about an online community or forum thing where people had to earn greater access to the community. First you could view comments but not post. Later, you could post occasionally to just a few forums. As you established a track record of, more often than not, being a civilized human being with your head screwed on straight and behaving with emotional maturity and fulfilling your obligations, you in turn recieved greater privileges.

I think that's the "normal" way most offline groups operate. There are classes of membership and those who value the organization easily accept the fact that they are not instantly accepted and given all the privileges of established members. Also it protects the long time members by not exposing them to a steady draft of immature people walking in and out through the door every day.

I think having two personas, an online one and an offline one, is in itself a sign of immaturity. Who wants to be phony? They're just playing with the medium like little kids making prank phone calls.

cruelanimal said...

I enjoyed reading the Fractal Burka, too. I agreed with much said by that anonymous blogger -- especially the claim that online art communities have more to do with socializing and power cliques than with the enrichment of art.

I like your example of the online community that granted rights and privileges gradually. One earns trust and respect and loyalty in most RL community or social situations. It doesn't take long (usually) to sense posers and players -- at least in the theatrical, Janus sense. It's much harder to lie to or scream at someone's face.

Although I have a screen name here, my identity is not hidden. My friends who read this blog say that the writing sounds like me...and that the art is a fairly reliable snapshot of my brain...

...which is probably a scarier composite than anyone I could ever pretend to be.

Neil Shakespeare said...

Ah yes! The "Bushless World"! What a dream! What a dream!

idyllopus said...

Street corner analogy is a good one. I've certainly been part of online groups geared to a specific purpose where who you knew offline and eventually meeting offline was part of the validation, trust and respect department. So with those online things in which I am more invested, I at least know a few people 3D. (Internet has been a great tool because there are many people I'd never have met but through the internet.)

I've known people real life whose online snippets don't give much of an indication of them 3D and don't do them justice. And I've known people real life who seemed just fine 3D, who were freakin' nuts online and it turned out to be more who they were than their real life presentation of self. They're talking to themselves online ultimately instead of someone else, unable to cross the bridge to talk to another. And it's going to come out 3D.

Which is a problem with online communication when it isn't geared to a specific purpose and someone knowing someone offline. The bulk of what wanders through is a matter of someone talking to themselves, never considering they're communicating with someone else.

Rayjo said...

I'm fed up with people jumping on politcal bandwagons and then just posting "art" to look cool.
Anyone can make that with a fractal programme. Anyone can cut and paste huge chunks of text..!
People ramble on-line. They spout and regurgitate spurious material that they wouldn't dare unleash on their friends down the pub. They think they are part of a brave new world, in fact they are cowards, hiding behind their avatars and their LCD screens.
A real artist is red in tooth and claw. They have to be. If you were the subject of a real-life crit, you'd curl up in the corner cringing and sobbing and sitting in a hopeless pool of your own waste, as yellow as your own urine!

cruelanimal said...

Rayjo,

Thanks for dropping by to share the love.

Of course, you could easily do what I do -- but, then again, you don't. I think I'll just let readers click on your name, visit your sites, and decide for themselves how they feel about your art. Hopefully, they'll be less hateful to you than you were to me.

But you aren't guilty of what you accuse me of, right? You don't have two web sites for your art to look cool? And, unlike me, you're egoless? That's why you're setting up a "canvas cam" so the world can watch you be spontaneously brilliant every waking minute? And, unlike me, you don't ramble on about your emo trips while cutting and pasting Tennyson quotes and hiding behind your avatar?

I list my real name and address on my blog. Who are you -- really?

If you're so much more of a "real artist," why aren't you off working on your art? Instead, you're bitterly cringing in the dark of my archives -- whimpering in my corner of the web while wringing the bile out your own soiled, soggy underwear.

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