I’ve always been fascinated by the Internet. I remember sitting at my Mac IIsi in the playroom in my parents’ house logging into AOL for the very first time. I skipped from chat room to chat room peeking in on a world that was totally foreign and yet totally fascinating. I spent five straight hours online talking to strangers until one took the chat a little too far for comfort. I instantly escaped. I had tested my boundaries and found the difference between alright and wrong. At least for me.
But what I remember most about that night is how fast the time flew by and how I lost myself in this world of connectivity. It was something about people engaging in a way I’d never seen before. No physical recognition. No significant sound. Just this constant scroll of line after line. A/S/L. Hi room. Hello? There was never a good way to jump into the noise. I was alone in my actual space but well aware of the crowd in this virtual space and eerily concerned about what they might think of me. Was I doing it right? Was there even a way?
By the time I got to Pseudo, the concept of online community had matured and evolved into a creature all its own. I not only had to reacquaint myself with the etiquette, but I also had to learn all about chat clients and admins and bots and a whole world of interactivity that had grown exponentially in a short period of time. It was exciting, and when I got the chance to marry that interactivity with the TV skills I’d picked up in the interim, I could not have been happier. The best part of all of it was how small the world became. I could talk to anyone anywhere at any time. And so could they. You. Whoever was reaching out through that computer to connect to people with similar interests or intentions. I don’t think online community makes you antisocial. I think if you are predisposed to avoiding personal contact, then yes, it can give you an excuse to continue to cocoon. But the majority of the people I have met through some online venture or another over the years have been interesting, smart, and creative people thrilled to have an additional outlet for what they choose to contribute.
Not enough is ever said about the good that comes out of online community. Predators and identity thieves and criminals dominate the news because worst case scenario always does. But I’ll see your creepy stranger who pushes the envelope of decency and raise you a whole slew of honest, compassionate, intelligent, forward-thinking chatters or bloggers or blog readers or friends or contacts who make the world – and the world wide web – a better place.