Magical Truthsaying Bastard Shadesong (shadesong) wrote,
Magical Truthsaying Bastard Shadesong

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Interesting sociological question

Well, interesting to me, anyway. Hopefully to you.

An interesting (there's that word again!) thing came up in conversation today. And I have absolutely no outside perspective on this, so I honestly don't know where most people fall on this spectrum, and I am very deeply curious.

So in this conversation, I made reference to knowing the person for over a year; the person corrected me and said that really our experience of each other was more like 18 hours.

And I was like "huh." Because our in-person hanging-out has been limited, yes, because of physical distance. But, as I said on Gchat in response, "All of the talking online and on the phone counts in my head. It feels not quite as complete as in-person time, but really close to it."

Apparently online interaction counts at about only 10% of actual experience-of-the-other-person for my friend. Which was jarring to me, because for me, it counts as closer to 80%. Of course it isn't quite as intense as in-person experience. But.

It's tremendously weird to discover a disjoint this big!

I'll repost my thoughts on why online communication counts for so much here in their almost-entirety, because they helped my friend grok. And if your experience is closer to theirs than to mine, hopefully they'll help you grok, too.

I sort of exist as much on the computer as off it.
Until I moved to Boston, 85-90% of my interaction with people was online.
I lived here and didn't know my current Florida friends yet; I lived in Atlanta and all my friends were up North and I was housebound due to no public transit.
And when I moved to Boston, all of my online interactions moved very seamlessly into meatspace.
So that tends to be my unconscious assumption, I guess.

More background: I got online in the first place specifically because I was isolated. I had just moved back to Florida, several months pregnant, and I was pretty much alone in this very sterile house all day, every day. I found the Tamson House mailing list and the Bordertown BBS, where I made friends who are some of my closest friends to this day, even some I've never met - I have zero in-person experience of themaskmaker, but she is a beloved sister-friend, and I know that when I meet her, we'll transition seamlessly, just like haikujaguar and I did; we felt instantly like we'd been hanging out for years. <3

So I accept that my experience and perspective here may be far from normal; not as many people are as tremendously isolated as I was, and for so long. So not as many people interact as purely online, if that makes sense. I think. Like I said, I can't really evaluate this part of myself from outside me. But I do not have an online persona - I have been assured by many people, most recently enderfem, that I'm very WYSIWYG. The me you see here is the same me you'd be having coffee with or test-driving hedgehogs with.

So yes. Here's the question. Where on this spectrum do you fall? To what degree does online interaction feel real and full to you? And how much of your interaction tends to be online? Am curious if my thoughts here are mainly the product of having the majority of my communication be online for big chunks of the past dozen-plus years.

EDIT for two datapoints:
1. I'm not saying any particular perspective here is right or wrong; I'm putting it out there specifically because I know that I am an unusual person with unusual social interactions, and this may well be one of the ways in which I am an alien, in which case it is a thing I ought to take into account when interacting with people.
2. I met the friend in question in person, not online, but most of our interaction has been online or on the phone, because y'all have not invented teleporters yet. You should get on that. (I'm a future neurologist. Teleporters are not my field.)

Also, I find it amusing how I instantly shifted into engineer-brain when this came up.
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