Yang 1 Qianchi Yang Erin Dietel-McLaughlin First Year Composition 07 September 2010 We can be light years far

away on the internet, that’s why I don’t want to meet you in life. From a mysterious point of time on, my MSN has always appeared “Away”. At the same time probably, I started to neglect the posts on my Facebook page intentionally. Don’t try to reach me through email because I might not check the one of my many mailboxes that you knocked at; nor through text messages because I will always be at a meeting. Don’t blame me for running away from your world because I am already trying to make you feel better—I did not tell you that I have no interest in you.

I am your Facebook stalker. I search through my network for your phone number. Google is my good brother that it presents me your email address. I found, sadly, that we live half the city away from each other. But I also, excitedly, found that we both act on MySpace. Don’t be scared when my message suddenly pops up in front of you—I tried hard to reach you, not even the long distance can stop me.

Yang 2 I am a hermit crab living in the vast ocean of virtual community, and I have many friends just like me. I will hide back into my shell when I feel crowded, and stretch out and grab someone to talk when I feel lonely. Among the 1,000 people I friended on my page I can find 10 to talk to, 30 to listen to and the rest are just to watch at. But I feel at ease because I can have as many people in my world as I expected, by giving responses selectively.

On the internet, the distance between people is easily manipulated.

Once, I received an angry phone call yelling at me “AREN’T YOU ONLINE? Our project is due soon, do you want to talk it over OR NOT?!” I know it was Jackson without asking—it was the sixth time he complained about my not replying to him on Facebook. Many of my friends had complained that I often ignore their messages. “Blame it on the technologies, dude.” I thought. Then I told Jackson that I was at the hospital. “Just forgot to shut my PC. Hahaha.” A really absurd excuse. “But useful.” I thought.

I am used to live in such a life: I seldom reply to messages online. Sometimes I did it on purpose; other times, still on purpose. In fact, Jackson is one of the friends I would try my best to save, but sometimes I just could not reply to him—that will disturb my privacy. I do not want many people to break into my world from a little window of chatbox. I am taking a rest from my intense real life network. Compared to a little chitchat that make little sense, floating silently through people’s pages will be my better choice. I did not know when I

Yang 3 started to act in this way, avoiding conversation with my friends while pretending to be innocent. But it indeed made me feel at ease.

Contradicted, huh? I always question myself, why would I feel good if I hurt my friends? I know they will feel upset, or even heartbroken, to see their words being neglected. But I dare not reply. I knew this is a very selfish act, but I could not give up my autism…in fact, I do not feel much guilt. People will not feel guilty for their selfish manners as long as they hold an unbeatable excuse. “Blame it on the computer, blame it on the computer!” they think they find the perfect scapegoat for their indifference. To protect their persona set up in front of their friends, they blame all on the technologies. “Why didn’t you reply to me?” “Oh, my computer broke down yesterday so I didn’t see your email.” Oh well, then how do you know that I sent an email, not a text message to you..?

People feel sheltered by technologies. If we live in a world where there is not such a word like “shell”, maybe we will just get used to and enjoy face-to-face intimacy, like people long ago did. But when “the shell” appears, will anyone still wander around with whole-body exposure? The venetians live with masks to avoid any inconvenience. Now since the technologies made them the masks, people will choose to joggle under their masks in pursuit of the sense of security. They can escape from social confrontations while keeping their networks healthy. They believe they are well disguised, but are they?

Yang 4 My answer would probably be a positive one before I found my network shrank. I used to believe that I am good in socializing: no one is again blaming on me for neglecting; no one is bothering me; unequally, I can catch others whenever I want. What wonderful freedom I am enjoying! But soon I noticed that when people no longer question me, yell at me, they lost their interest in me. I have been ignoring my friends, now it is their turn to ignore me. One by one, my friends disappeared in my life. I used to reply to few of the dozens of messages I receive; now I can barely find anyone to text to. I don’t want to make phone calls because it will may me more upset to hear about others’ colorful lives while I myself am online by myself. I lost my balance in my social network.

Facebook, and other telecommunication tools and virtual communities, now become my nightmare. They used to protect me from being socially exposed. Now, they prevent me from being socially active. The technologies are actually built with the warm intention of connecting people. But now, they become my social killer.

One of the most fascinating things about telecommunication technologies is that they allow physical isolation while people communicate. Meanwhile, it also allows people to reset the physical distance whenever they want. This is what made people their shelter, their firewall. But this is a wall so thick that it blocks out other people completely, since people would be puzzled by the peaceful image and thus lose control of their social life. The technologies also prevent subtle information such as tones and facial expressions from being conveyed. When

Yang 5 chatting with pale, flat text, some subtle sharing of emotions and feelings disappears. When words are ripped apart from emotions, they can hurt, especially when the other is expecting an enthusiastic reply. ”What are you doing?~“ ”Watching TV.“ What else can one reply to that kind of sentences? “Okay…then I’d better not disturb you.” Doesn’t it sounds pathetic?

On the other hand, the technologies do bring people closer, to an extent that makes me afraid of socializing. The online communities make people accessible at any time to everyone. I feel crowded. I feel tired of being active online. I feel tired of being watched over by others from Facebook. It is such a world where profile demonstrating kills privacy. But this is how we the e-generation live. I may either escape like a self-centered, socially awkward individual, or endure, until my volcano burst.

But to be honest, technologies are not to blame in this complicated situation. It is people’s addiction to and dependence on technologies that ruin their life. I wonder what life will be like if we give up on the technologies—will we be in peace or feel lonely? The answer may never be found. But what we can do at present is to be alarmed of the dependence. Take a step backward from virtual life, embrace the substantial intimacy, then we will all be safe and sound.

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