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Avon, Mary Kay, Tupperware, Levi’s, MTV and YouTube: A Continuum of Community

Back in April of this year, YouTube announced it had reached a milestone: viewers were watching more than 100 million videos per day on the site. Then, in July, Yahoo News reported that the “big four” television networks suffered the lowest weekly ratings ever. And on Monday afternoon, Google bought YouTube for $1.65 billion in stock. Since its inception, YouTube has stated that it was more important for the company to build a community than to make a lot of money. And that is precisely the reason the sale of YouTube made its founders billionaires.

According to Rev2, three former PayPal employees, who, witnessing the boom of online grassroots video, realized the need for a service that made the process of uploading, watching and sharing videos hassle-free, founded YouTube. They registered the domain YouTube.com on February 15th, 2005 and developed the site over the following months from a garage in Menlo Park. In May 2005 they launched in a public beta, and in November, YouTube made its debut with $3.5 million of funding from Sequoia Capital.

Perhaps the popularity of YouTube lies in its self-explanatory name: proposing a convergence of “You” and “Television,” manifesting an online world as a vast community. But this is not the first online space manufactured as a community. MySpace, a site that started out as a “place for friends” has grown into the definitive social-networking phenomenon. The site hosts tens of millions of pages, with new users signing up every day in the hundreds of thousands. In October of last year, an industry poll claimed that MySpace had 12 billion unique page views, twice that of Google’s 6.6 billion. No wonder Rupert Murdoch bought the brand for $650 million in cash. Even ebay founder Pierre Omidyar said he started the site with its unique structure because “I believe in community, and bringing back community, because we’ve lost it a little bit in the modern world.”

At one time, the word community signified a kind of neighborhood, wherein those that inhabited this specific locality shared more than just a zip code. They had a series of commonalities that often included demographics, psychographics, cultural interests and physical companionship. It seems odd to refer to a website that virtually hosts millions of strangers a “community,” but frankly, there is no other description that fits this phenomenon more appropriately. What is not odd is the popularity of these “communities” and why humans need these communities in their lives so desperately.

Despite the striking dominance of the modern brain, civilized men and women are driven by the functions of our primitive brain, especially to tribalism and the need to be close to one another. In fact, human beings are very much like dogs in this manner: we are pack animals that thrive on companionship. From a scientific perspective, the need for our brains to connect with others comes from what is now considered “attachment theory” — a theory, or a group of theories, about the tendency to seek closeness to another person, to feel secure when that person is present, and to feel anxious when that person is absent. The origin of attachment theory can be traced to the publication of two 1958 papers: John Bowlby’s “The Nature of the Child’s Tie to his Mother,” in which precursory concepts of “attachment” were introduced, and Harry Harlow’s “The Nature of Love,” which was based on the results of experiments which showed that infant monkeys preferred emotional attachment over food. When babies have no “relationship” they fail to thrive, in fact, they often die. And the worst punishment we can inflict on a person is to keep them in solitary confinement.

This need for human attachment comes from the limbic part of the brain, which seats all of our emotions and our basic needs. Interestingly, the word limbic derives it’s name from the Latin word for ‘ring’ or ‘circle.” Further, mammals are “open” systems. We cannot exist without referencing other people. When in the company of family members, lovers and friends, our limbic brains resonate with theirs. This communication stabilizes us, and improves emotional well-being and health. It seems that the limbic brain needs to be in active relationship with others to be happy. Humans, quite simply, are deeply social creatures.

Yet, according to American Demographics, during the 1990s the number of people who live alone increased by 4.6 million to reach 27 million — a 21% increase. One-person households have had far higher growth rates and are now more numerous than married couples with kids. At least 1 in every 3 new households created during the 1990s was a single person. As a result, they are now 26 percent of U.S. households — more than 1 in every 4 — up from less than 1 in every 10 — in 1950. Further, according to the U.S. census, one third of all school age children in the United States are, for some part of the week, latch key kids—that is, they go home to an empty house or apartment. The total number may be between five and seven million children between five and 13 years old. Marian Wright Edelman, the director of the Children’s Defense Fund , thinks it’s close to 16 million children. The Census Bureau found that 15% were home alone before school, 76% after school and 9% at night. Presumably, the 9% have parents who work night shifts. One-half of all children in the country age 12 to 14 are home alone an average of seven hours a week.

While people might be able to intellectually rationalize this behavior as necessary, our limbic brains have not yet become adept at accepting this. Because we humans are also quite clever, we find alternative communities wherever and whenever we can. Thus, the popularity of brands and websites providing community, companionship, a sense of belonging and like-minded mutuality.

However, while these sites may involve and leverage innovative technologies, YouTube and MySpace are not fundamentally unique in catering to the basic human need to connect. Humans have been responding to brands like this for years. In the 1950s community was created via Avon, Mary Kay and Tupperware parties, in the 1960s by participating in the Volkswagen movement, in the 1970s by dressing in Levi’s attire. In the 1980s, community became more culturally and linguistically savvy via participation in the MTV and Nike tribes, and in the 1990s it became more experiential via a Starbucks or eBay encounter. Now, in the beginning of the 21st century, you can acquire the traits of community by joining the MySpace and YouTube tribes. What these brands and communities have in common is not their business models or their return on investment prospects for shareholders, or even their level of success in the marketplace. What these communities share is this: they have provided what families and neighborhoods and loved ones once could but no longer do: camaraderie, connectivity, a sense of belonging, all the while allowing participants to be seen and heard and to feel important. Perhaps most profoundly, in a world of rampant insecurity, participation in these sites provides tangible proof of one’s own existence.

This is both a great success and a tragic failure. Our culture is now more technologically connected than it has ever been before, with more dialogue and exchange and communication. It’s just a shame that when visiting the vast community of YouTube, we are connecting with people we will likely never meet, in a place that doesn’t really exist, and in a community that will likely never know your name. At least your real one.

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PUBLISHED ON Oct.11.2006 BY debbie millman
Bradley’s comment is:

Great article! Supremely well written.

I've been fascinated, for lack of a better term, with the whole myspace movement and WHY exactly it exists--like text messaging and emailing, its yet another way to build a barrier between you and someone else. It's extremely guarded, and as far as community goes, I think myspace and youtube are completely and utterly false. The most powerful form of communication happens face-to-face, whether there's gesturing involved, touching (physical contact says a lot--ranging from I love you, I have perverted thoughts about you, I hate you, I want to protect you, etc), or talking. That's the essence of community. Community allows us to develop, enhance, and create meaning, and if the community is somehow false or vacant then any exchanges within it are...well...false and vacant. Kinda like how they always advise you not to have a relationship with someone you meet while drunk, in a bar.

I heard about a couple, the woman in Illinois, the man in South Korea, who got married recently. Via webcam. YouTube THAT! I'm sure they're very happy, but c'mon. It was a distant second choice to actually having the ceremony together. There's no replacement.

As far as I can tell, myspace through its weird blogging feature among other things, allows people to confirm the reptilian sense that they're the undisputed center of the universe. It's a very celestial thing, with people putting insane amounts of time into their homepage layouts to build their "star" aura, with huge "friends" lists as their orbiting planets. Maybe its more galactic, then. Either way, I'm not really sure what one gets from it in the long run.

In my own experiences I actually re-connected with a few people who had moved to various corners of the country. But then, I had to ask, why did I lose track of them in the FIRST place?

And what do most people want out of myspace, or youtube, or match.com, or whatever the hell else is out there? As addictive as it can be, adding friends and reading blogs and snooping on ex's, there's not much of an end goal in any of those activities. I'm not sure how many people really hang out and have dinners and parties with their myspace friends...because if they were doing those things, what's the fucking point of myspace?

So basically, I don't think any of these sites have replaced any sort of lost community. Just as people are inclined to commune with one another, they're also equally inclined to presume that they're the single most important entity in existence. There's nothing wrong with going through this natural self-absorption--its called "adolescence" and we've all suffered from some narcissistic tendencies even after those years. But it really is one of those things that's kind of a default setting, so you have to work at realizing that you're not the center of everything. Online communities sort of eliminate that, because nothing about them is real and the online world doesn't really confront you with anything that's going to upset your default settings--and if it does, well shit, just click the "X" in the upper left corner and close it.

I've had weird things emailed to me. I've had weird things texted to me. I've received bizarre myspace messages. I know of someone who got a text message from his sort-of girlfriend that she was pregnant.

And why not? The immediacy of actually dealing one-on-one with another human, coping with the various difficulties of daily life, is HARD. The internet has done many things, and one of the biggest is giving us more and more ways to consciously evade reality and replace it with a more personalized, more controllable virtual one.

Somehow, it all fits in with our celebrity obsession and culture of distraction.


On Oct.11.2006 at 01:20 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

"This is both a great success and a tragic failure."

I'd say it's neither. It is what it is: people online.

On Oct.11.2006 at 01:51 PM
Bradley’s comment is:

Yeah, but its indicative of some not-so-great things. Not that there's much anyone can DO about it, but still.

On Oct.11.2006 at 02:09 PM
Su’s comment is:

Bradley: like text messaging and emailing, its yet another way to build a barrier between you and someone else[...]

I never stop being amused by these ludicrous, hidebound proclamations.
I won't get into the "You can't not communicate" bit, because I'm not sure I buy it, but you build barriers by building barriers, eg: insulting other people's chosen methods of communication. The tools(keyboard, numberpad, et al.) involved do not inherently carry that responsibility.

Please show your work. If I can't be in the same place with another person to rub them and thereby give greater import to what I have to say, how precisely do you validate the claim that sending them an e-mail/text/etc is a distancing maneuver?

On Oct.11.2006 at 02:14 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

What Su said. ;o)

To say it's a tragedy is to simply resort to FUD for the sake of FUD. To say it's a success is to give in to the VC hype.

For the most part, it's neither. It's just people communicating. It just happens that they are using the internet to do so.

With all due respect to Debbie, it seems the post was a bit of an attempt at making a mountain out of a molehill.

On Oct.11.2006 at 02:46 PM
debbie millman’s comment is:

um, so, Darrel, let me get this straight--do you mean to say that Google paying a record amount for online communicating is a molehill? also, the 100 million site visits a day is just a fluke?

On Oct.11.2006 at 02:56 PM
oo’s comment is:

I kinda feel like Google got duped: YouTube is only as popular as it is because it essentially gave away copyrighted materials for a year. And now that it has been legitimized by Google, it will likely suffer the same fate as another extremely popular "community" service: Napster. Cause once all the Daily Show and Colbert Report reruns are gone, what is left? This?


On Oct.11.2006 at 03:41 PM
pnk’s comment is:

It's no molehill: it's our culture in transition. Moving form a world where your relationships are deeper and more geographically limited to one where they are shallower and more dispersed.

And hey, it's not *them*: it's us! I've had the pleasure of meeting some of you, and the virtual communciation we create here has been the catalyst for some excellent "offline" communion.

The rub for me, traditionalist that I am, is that I don't really consider someone a friend until we've shared protracted offline experiences. That's my biggest beef with Myspace: the dilution of the meaning of the word friend.

But that's not to say that I can't have a relationship that I value highly with someone I've never met. Hell, I feel like I know Bob Dylan, and his communcation with me has been strictly one way for years!

On Oct.11.2006 at 03:44 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

"um, so, Darrel, let me get this straight--do you mean to say that Google paying a record amount for online communicating is a molehill? also, the 100 million site visits a day is just a fluke?"

No, I'm saying the hyperbole around it is. ;o)

"It's no molehill: it's our culture in transition. Moving form a world where your relationships are deeper and more geographically limited to one where they are shallower and more dispersed."

It's not a transistion. It's an addition. And just because the relationship is online does not, by default, make it less shallow than one offline.

To equate YouTube's sale to the breakdown of basic human relations is a bit of a stretch. IMHO, of course.

As for myspace's success, it has less to do with any quality community on the site (it's really a crappy site and the community aspects are weak, at best) and much more to do with clever marketing by the founders (a group of telemarketers and quasi-spammers that knew how to get eyeballs).

On Oct.11.2006 at 04:31 PM
Bradley’s comment is:

Wow, such informed discussion.

If you send me an email (or post to this forum, which is nice, but a poor substitute for a table-based discussion/conversation/etc), your message a) lacks tone, b) lacks context, c) is essentially one-way. It's not real-time. We're taking turns in exchanging information. Kinda like how people who try to be sarcastic over emails usually fail--assuming that your intentions are going to be so clear to someone else because YOU have them in no way guarantees that someone else will see them in the same light. How could it? My interaction with you, currently, is limited to pixels. Not very deep.

Did you all just suddenly somehow forget the old factoid about how 80% of communication is non-verbal? I'm guessing not (or maybe just hoping). But to say that people emailing is just "people communicating" isn't, well...accurate. It's people disseminating information, and giving someone an opportunity to pick it up. Of course, what they pick up is just letters tied into words constructed into sentences, which isn't that dimensional. I'm not going to lecture about interpersonal communications, I'm assuming most people here understand that reasonably well. But I will balk at anyone saying that email/txting is somehow even remotely similar to REAL communication--I'm glad that you find amusement in what I'm saying, but I find your response to it thoroughly lacking in insight or depth. You didn't even pose an argument.

And I'm not pegging responsibility on keyboards or cellphones. I'm pegging responsibility on the people who use those items as a way to interact with someone else. This isn't about tools and technology, its about how people use them.

Seriously--I'm guessing that you wouldn't fire someone over the phone, nor would you break up with someone over email (or voicemail, whatever).

Debbie's isn't exaggerating anything--we live in an increasingly dispersed culture. Fuck the statistics, this shit is WEIRD. If you don't see that, ain't no amount of shouting going to change your mind.

It'd be nice to see more people THINK about this sort of thing. The most common thing people do with each other, in addition to fucking or killing each other, is communicate. Pondering how exactly we do that is probably a good idea, and considering what the implications are isn't going to hurt anyone.

There aren't enough intelligent discussions on Speak Up anymore, and this article actually seems to provide a foundation for one.

On Oct.11.2006 at 05:17 PM
dan’s comment is:

Great Debbie - you have brought up several of the key issues. The statistics were interesting – and yes sadly support the huge usage and time youth spend on social networks – an empty house, the Internet and ‘social networks’ in many ways is a surrogate mall… there are so many societal problems that have spurned out of social networks. Just like the schoolyard, bullying, gossip… but also others that are possibly more concerning.

This topic and related social network boom has sucked up LOTS of my time of late - I spent over a year thinking about and researching many issues that seem to be engrained into the YOUTUBE & MYSPACE 'way of life' ... so I’m probably now way tooo close and infatuated with the potential and entertainment these sites are generating, but i'll do my best to add what i've tried to learn etc….

I recently completed my masters thesis entitled Malleable Branding: Realising the Potential of Online Social Networks and User Generated Content. Like many I have seen social networks and the user generated content this phenomena has created - boom! Not just getting traditional media attention, but in YOUTUBE’s case - 1.6 BIL. in stock is testament to success. What I do think though is it says less about 'communication' but more about the marketing, advertising and media platform that has turned the community and its users into online media creators.

Not only are social networks a communication medium, they have become a breeding ground and canvas for aspiring creative content generators. Future ideas for shows, stories, movies and products can be found – this level of ‘consumer’ interaction is priceless for measuring and achieving brand success. So for a start I believe there is a change in hierarchy – as you alluded to Debbie with the note on television audiences, they effect of YOUTUBE & co is a real and serious threat to traditional lines of media and the associated advertising, marketing and interaction the likes of television has relied on…

That’s all i’ve got time to post and isn’t really much – but if anyone is interested my thesis is a lot more interesting! Maybe;)

On Oct.11.2006 at 05:44 PM
dan’s comment is:

here here bradley. - I think YouTube nails it by watching a video you can gain the "80 percent' non-verbal part and SEE/GET more than a text based post here...

On Oct.11.2006 at 05:54 PM
Tselentis’s comment is:

With this union, we are witnessing a closer step to democratizing the way we entertain one another as well as communicate. Rather than them (stars, news anchors, media giants) pushing us communication, it's us to us. Why is this such a bad thing?

On Oct.11.2006 at 11:03 PM
Mark Notermann’s comment is:


This is a great article, and I love the way you bring everything full circle, until the last paragraph, when you suggest failure. I think you have a healthy resistance to another human communications channel for the same reason that we crave and value personal contact...we are wired to resist rapid change and embrace comfort.

The last few hundred years have brought unprecedented changes to the human condition: no less than the ways we eat, work, and interact. Can you think of any other animal on the face of this planet which has had to adapt to such immense change in so short a period of time?

Our ability to control the environment we live in has possibly outpaced our biological ability to keep up, but it has definitely challenged us emotionally. If you don't feel the pain, its only because you haven't been around long enough to become attached to a set way of doing things.

This doesn't mean its all bad. ...Or good.... it just is.

We entertained each other pretty democratically (if you look past the kings and popes) for thousands of years until electricity brought us TV and radio. If you look at this historically, it just means it only took us 100 years or so for the tools to become accessible.

500 years ago there weren't too many people that could READ. There were a few people that thought it wasn't a very good idea, either.

On Oct.12.2006 at 01:45 AM
Armin’s comment is:

> For the most part, it's neither. It's just people communicating. It just happens that they are using the internet to do so.

Darrel, to say that "it just," [emphasis mine] "happens that they are using the internet to do so" completely undermines what it took to get where we are today. MySpace, Google, YouTube and others is exactly what was promised almost 10 years ago the internet could do and has left a body count of hundreds of failed startup dot-coms and a trail of millions of dollars in hopes of capitalizing on the medium. For the past 10 years every venture's goal was to bring as many people together from as many parts of the world in as varied a range of social and economical audience – to either buy or just hang out and share – and only a select few sites have been able to do so. And do so succesfully in terms of participation and as a money-making effort. So, it's not just people that happen to communicate online, it's the result of almost a decade-long struggle to tap into the connective potential of the internet.


I don't think online communication replaces real communication and interaction. It may interfere and it may be starting to breed a new generation that considers online communication real communication and while that may seem like an awful and grim future where people eat soylent green and never see each other I feel people find a way to make this communication meaningful in their own way. It creates a new mode of affection and relationship that may be as valuable to those that use it as it is for most of us to meet at a bar and have a beer and some multi-touched peanuts. Everything evolves, and the way we communicate through technology is simply one more facet that we need to adapt to – or not, and see how far that goes. I'm not proposing dropping all modes of live human interaction but I would also argue in favor of those that choose to marry through a web cam. Whatever anyone's boat is, they can rock it as they please.

On Oct.12.2006 at 08:20 AM
darrel’s comment is:

"Darrel, to say that "it just," [emphasis mine] "happens that they are using the internet to do so" completely undermines what it took to get where we are today."

The internet is impressive, but in the end, it's just another technology we humans use to communicate. I'm guessing these exact same doom-and-gloom concernns were brought up when phones first came about. And before that, the telegraph. And before that, books.

The progression to this point is indeed impressive, but it's certainly not tragic, nor likely that much of a concern in the grand scheme of things.

"it's the result of almost a decade-long struggle to tap into the connective potential of the internet."

This threas is focusing on a few high profile companies that managed to play the 'flip this site' game well. In terms of the 'connective potential of the internet' that's been a known and succesful attribute since the early 80s. It's nothing new. What is new is Google and Murdoch.

Now, we could say that this is the culmination of this amazing internet, but there are so many other factors involved. Media consolidation on a global scale is one of them. Remnants of Web1.0 VC hype is another. Google's inability to design a compelling interface for Google Video is likely yet another major factor.

I do think this could be an interesting discussion, but it's rather fragmented at the moment. We're talking about the dilution of traditional media channels. We're talking about crazy VC money. We're talking about Google's unending appetite for buying web companies. We're talking about MySpace's odd success. We're talking about online communities (of which YouTube and MySpace are rather poor examples of, IMHO...Speakup is arguably a better example than any of those mentioned).

Of course, this is a blog, and that's part of what a blog is...conversation that takes it's own path...

"For the past 10 years every venture's goal was to bring as many people together from as many parts of the world in as varied a range of social and economical audience – to either buy or just hang out and share – and only a select few sites have been able to do so."

Only a select few sites have been able to convince a company that their web logs are worth 10 figures.

Many, many web sites have succesfully created community. I'd argue many of those sites were able to do it AND have viable cash flow without the need for the hail-mary gamble of selling to the highest bidder and bailing before their lack of a business model was found out. (*cough*...flickr...*cough*...)

On Oct.12.2006 at 09:40 AM
agrayspace’s comment is:

Awesome article Millman.

I had a friend who swore he'd never get a cell phone, claiming that it was a social crutch the prevented "real" relationships. After a while, this person realized they were missing HUGE opportunities to "connect" with their friends and family and that they were more isolated without it. So they got themselves a cell phone and they liked it.

This person also swore they would never use Instant Messaging claiming it was just another "barrier" to authenticity. Then as part of an experiment in networked brainstorming, they realized how awesomely efficient AND personal IM chatting could be. This person is now an avid user.

Admittedly we are venturing into territory in which 80% of our communication skills are rendered useless and there have been times when this has been infuriating. The use of sarcasm is especially difficult, hence the necessity of the SMILEY. But we ARE in transition and we will have to learn to communicate in news ways, much as we did when we first learned to use the phone, or even the printing press for that matter. I bet people were playing the Grumpy Old Men back then, saying the page was no substitute for real Oral Storytelling. Blah fucking blah.

At the moment YouTube is primarily about lame bedroom confessionals and pirated copyrighted content. But what happens when video technology is as ubiquitous as the cell phone and this internet video medium becomea a primary way we communicate.

YouTube is just a figment of what Internet video technology will become, but its groundwork is monumentally important, especially as it concerns the DEMOCRATIZATION OF MEDIA CREATION. Which will probably prove to be one of the most significant developments in our modern era.

Fighting technology and its inevitable integration into our lives is refusing to make the best of progress. Favoring negativity over positivity. What's the point of being grumpy about it? other than resisting progress for the sake of claiming some kind of traditionalist authoritarian position of veiled elitism, which is mostly based in fear of the unknown, in the hopes to one day be able to claim, "I told you so."

Just ask the people who derided digital type.

Get on the bus Luddites!

On Oct.12.2006 at 10:06 AM
ed mckim’s comment is:

I feel like the most interesting thing about these online communities is that you get to sculpt your own community, but more interesting than that is how you can sculpt your entire persona to be just like you or (more commonly) just like what you want yourself to be.

that is the reason i have no faith in these communities, there is no credibility, you can be whatever you want to be.

On Oct.12.2006 at 07:57 PM
Mr. One-Hundred’s comment is:

Rupert Murdoch. Is that the same Rupert Murdoch who bought Fox?

That’s some great democratization you’ve got there.

On Oct.12.2006 at 08:52 PM
pk’s comment is:

i may just be thinking laterally in saying this (and i think it's a little off-topic), but i see the activity at youtube enhancing the quality of material that shows up from professional filmmakers everywhere. i'm thinking specifically of lost, six feet under, heroes, etc—shows that convey skill that simply doesn't often come from anyone on youtube, atom films, or any of the other small media outlets.

it may just be a coincidence, but i'm noticing a lot more of an emphasis on well-rounded characters, slowly-paced stories, and drawn out dramas. i feel like i'm seeing a generation of storytelling in direct response to the instant nature of online anything (and its direct descendant, the reality tv show). it really makes me wonder if audience-driven media and author-driven media are now moving in two completely different directions.

next point!

i think this nonsense about onlne communities moving us further apart is just that. it's all about how you use the community setting. if you relate to people online as a passive inbox to collect your messges regardless of their emotional content, you'll communicate like a callous dick. unfortunately, a lot of people seem to think this is okay—but it's the fault of the communicator. not the community.

single-media friendships have existed (and been unheathy) for generations. how many of us children of the seventies had long-distance relationships over the phone lines? how many of us built fantasies around a pen-pal we'd never met? even if we've never done it ourselves, the concept isn't alien.

i have a strict rule of only adding friends to my myspace if i know them in real life. i use the system as a news aggregator for my friends—whose baby was recently born, who's got a show happening soon, where everyone's hanging out tonight, that sort of thing. conversely, if i meet someone online, i take that relationship into other modes of communication as it becomes appropriate.

On Oct.12.2006 at 10:15 PM
Joe moran’s comment is:

You are yourself. Learn who you are. It takes time.

No matter where you are.


On Oct.12.2006 at 11:06 PM
Jeff Gill’s comment is:

ed mckim said: you can sculpt your entire persona to be just like you or (more commonly) just like what you want yourself to be.
that is the reason i have no faith in these communities, there is no credibility, you can be whatever you want to be.

Kind of like immigrating to America in the 1800s. And we all know what a bad idea that was. (Yep, that's sarcasm.)

All of this, including the 'this changes everything!' and the 'ack, this is awful!' responses, is simply humans acting like humans have acted ever since they have been human. Only the technology is new.

On Oct.13.2006 at 06:41 AM
Christina W’s comment is:

I agree somewhat with both sides. If there's one thing I've noticed through various moves to different cities, it's that 90% of the things I say I "like" are merely the things I'm used to. So I try to interpret those feelings a little differently before I pass judgement these days.

On the other hand, I think there is something to be examined in disconnecting yourself from a physical world. Most philosophies say we are three-part beings (body, mind, soul etc) but I think in our culture it is very easy to become disconnected from the physical body - the mind is more comfortable in a mind-space (or a MySpace).

I think that if there is any "danger", it is that we become even more disconnected, more uncomfortable, with the physical sides of ourselves... for example, as seen in our culture's problems with body weight and sexual issues.

On Oct.13.2006 at 11:52 AM
refleshed’s comment is:

Let me ask a question: let’s say you are in traffic, it’s really hectic (kind of like road rage time) and some person is just about to cut you off. Given how we can find people (GPS, on-line yellow pages, etc…) and it progressed in such a way that you can take a picture of that person with your cell phone and BAM! You can instantly get that persons cell phone number. Remember that person is in your sight rangeand you want to tell them off. How would you? Would you: text them “fuck you!” or would you flip them the finger and yell “fuck you!”

My point is that during a conversation where people are physically present there will be an emotional reaction (happy, sad, angry, whatever). This reaction happens in real time not in lag time like during texting or e-mailing. Your response is charged by the physicality of your location not by the virtual location (whether it be video or computer) Even if you yell at some person while on web conferencing or even on the phone, you are not physically interacting with that person due the distance between each other. Getting up into some ones face is a lot different than getting up into your web cam to yell at some one.

Distance is the key to human interactions, relationships, and communications. Let’s say you hate some one in your blog, but they happen to live in your town, I believe your texting tone would be a little more relaxed. On the other hand, if that person lived in the U.K. then maybe you would let’em have it! I don’t believe you can sit down in front of your computer with a nice cup of coffee and type to your lover who is located where ever and have any real emotional satisfaction.

On Oct.13.2006 at 01:39 PM