Thursday, August 4, 2011

Social Blogs and Virtual Lives

© 2011 Johnny Domawa
All Rights Reserved

Have you ever tried searching your name on Google? You should try it once and see the traces of your virtual existence. There was a time when I wrote my name and the only thing that appears is some guy who shares my moniker from Rochester somewhere in the US. And then it progressed to show my name on a PRC list and a newsletter article from my alma mater.

Nowadays, of course, putting my name on the search engine would land you here, a few blogs where some former students mentioned me, a publication and social media sites. I guess, in a way, you could say that I now have a virtual footprint, a virtual existence so to speak.

You won’t find me on Facebook though(my account is a bit restricted for security reasons so if you are trying to befriend me, you have to know someone who is already FB friends with me). I’m actually contemplating on toning down my virtual existence on the platform for the near future (although that’s rather easier said than done considering that FB is already part of life). I have an active Twitter account which I’ve taken to like these past month: that’s where you’ll find my thoughts often (since I can access it without too much worries about sensibilities and stuff like that – you can follow me by clicking the link to the right if you want, if you are into that kind of thing).

And of course, I blog. This is my first blog and I’ll probably keep this account for the immediate future until I can create my own original site that will be wholly mine.
And I have a Linked-in profile career-wise; a Figment account for my writing and other online presences.

Now, I am not writing this to sound all proud and gloating but only to represent that life now on these times is not wholly constricted to an actual physical existence. It now encompasses an online persona whether we like it or not.

Our busy lives, the distance that separates people nowadays tend to conspire to make us unable to reconnect in the most basic face to face interactions that had defined us a few decades back. Even family members living under one roof would be lucky to meet each other more than twice in a single week for most of their lives. People come and go like the seasons.

Mothers and daughters, sons and fathers, even lovers, husbands and wives must bear separation in their lives and the distances created by those situations can only be bridged by virtual communication: Facebook chat, cell calls, text messages, emails and video calls.

And of course, career-wise; people nowadays are starting to rely on a virtual environment like the one that is offered by Linked-in. It offers an online community that supports a professional platform that reinforces your professional expertise. Human connections once in the purview of peer recommendations have entered virtual reality. You are no longer constrained by paper documents hidden in a safe somewhere. Your life is in the net…

And increasingly blogging which was once considered to be the delusions of geeks and nerds who lack social lives have entered the mainstream. (Though I am a nerd, it does not mean that I am devoting my time to blogging – I actually write when it fancies me, usually a couple of hours a day. And no, I don’t stare at my laptop for most of my free time.) I have a life outside of my virtual one – spent in certain activities that many will find a bit pointless and boring but that is another matter of course.

I blog to speak my thoughts. Because it is rather frustrating when you have your thoughts and there is no one there to share them with. Friends have other personalities: some are consumed now by the more pressing concerns of family budgets and kids that speaking to them about poetry or a flower would be downright nasty and insulting; others have different tastes and interests who might consider your passions to be boring or much too intellectual. It is rare to find friends who share a mutual interest and even when you do find one, you’ll realize that time is a luxury that is rarely accommodating.

So I blog. One for providing me a release for the thoughts I have and two for the hopes that what I right will strike the right cord with a reader who manages to stumble to here. Others might keep their thoughts to themselves but I choose to share mine in a virtual conversation with my readers, whoever they may be.

So our lives already has a virtual aspect and that wouldn’t be changing. It will someday become as natural as us being us…

It has its downsides of course, like the fact that you can have a virtual stalker or something like that and there is always the issue of how much about yourself you can share with other people. It is a delicate balancing act that everyone must contend with at one time or another.

On a rather interesting note, it is amusing to actually see that almost all aspects of our lives have a virtual representation. Shopping for one is slowly migrating online, books are increasingly getting published on e-book formats, bills and letters are e-bills and emails; banking is mostly done online (I do 100% of my banking online) and even dating (yeah, that male-female game going on) is increasingly virtual (I mean E-Harmony is constantly sending me email notifications despite the fact that I only signed up once out of a whim)… you can see that as a downside or an upside.

So go ahead, search for your name in Google and see your virtual footprint… you just might surprise yourself.


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