It sure does feel like that.
I have been Skype texting with a woman who I am confident is in Osaka. This is just-friends texting, and no salacious stuff. The last really meaty dialogue went to whether someone should take the One-Time Lump Sum payment out of the Japan pension, or leave it there until the middle of the 21st century.
No Congressman Weiner stuff. The likelihood, in fact, is that the conversation would put the person on the other end to sleep out of boredom.
I also have a friend in China who I am happy to hear from. Except the convenient times seem to be in those wee-hours when it is the middle of the day in China. So he ends up talking to someone with bags under his eyes like a Doonesbury cartoon character. It is hard to pick him up online at 4 in the afternoon, and probably because he’s asleep.
What I notice about the net is that the informal methods win out over the formal ones. So I get much more texting Skypes than voice and visual ones. What I notice, though, is that if you frequently text somebody, the conversation can just “end” in the most uncertain fashion, and then pick up three hours later. The more “Skype commonality” you have with the person, the more likely a dialogue is going to bleed into that borderlessness. A certain borderless familiarity, even with someone you have not met face-to-face.
It is like you are friends with a computer algorithm, and you just feel there is a real person behind it.
This is the thing that did Weiner in, except, for him, the focus was on taking pictures of himself in an “R” and “X” rated manner. The borderlessness of the internet. You are talking to everyone, and yet, in a solid sense, you are just the radio or TV wave of our youth (1970’s or so). You are there until someone turns the knob, or you decide that you aren’t broadcasting anymore.
I don’t think civil society is going to rot from these new developments, but it does make me think about how the technology is changing things. Even my new template out of WordPress evokes the ones over on Tumblr, which didn’t even exist a few years ago.
The familiarity and casualness that the internet creates. Yet, the distance it shrinks for people. The distance it puts between people.
This is how the radio broadcaster must have sounded to his neighbors.