The Internets has changed how we think about people.

I’ve always been under the assumption that I’m very leery of trusting the internet, because, everyone on the internet is a creep murderer and that I would never want to give up all my data to Zuck and the Gootch, but a couple of events recently have convinced me otherwise.

The first thing that happened is that a couple of weeks ago, my grandpa discovered a long-lost relative merely from the fact that he goes to a pharmacy, she’s a pharmacist there, and they have the same last name, and my grandpa’s last name is not very common. Once they got to talking, they realized that they are definitely related, and he wanted her to meet the rest of the family.  Sounds like a crazy sitcom coincidence, too good to be true, right?  That’s what I thought.

At first I was really excited.  We have a very small family as it is, and any new relatives, especially ones closer to my age, are welcome additions.  So we met, talked, the whole deal.  Afterwards, I tried to Google her.  Nothing came up. I immediately became unsure.  Because who’s ungooglable in this age?  (by the way, that link is the whitest thing I’ve EVER read.) Then I realized I was spelling her name wrong, and came upon her Facebook page and a couple other of details, which meant she was legit.  To me, unlike the rest of my family who believe in meeting someone a number of times, having an active and not sketchy online presence means you are who you say you are.  I’m not saying it’s wrong, I’m just saying that the internet has completely changed how my generation understands social cues.

This came into play for me when my friend Anton stayed with us for a couple days before Thanksgiving last week. Can you call someone a friend if you’ve only talked to them on Twitter or Facebook for the past year and a half? I’m doing it now. Anton was in America for work and mentioned that he would be in Philly, and that we should meet up.  On a whim, because he is funny and smart and interesting and I love to learn from people that are smarter and more well-traveled than me, I invited him to stay at our house.

I know what you’re thinking.  The end to this story is that Anton really murdered both of us in our sleep because we were stupid to LET THE INTERNET CREEPERS IN and in fact is writing this blog post right now because, hey, you have to keep up appearances.

Or maybe, everything turned out normal because I already trusted Anton online and we had an awesome time, and I learned SO MUCH that I didn’t know before. Oh yeah,  I  did almost poison him because I forgot he was allergic to mushrooms.  My bad.

Also, he brought me posters for the kitchen. Ooo.

The internet really strips out the amount of background introductions you have to do, which is PERFECT for introverts like me.  On Twitter and Facebook and here, I can be as weird as I want, and if someone from online wants to meet up based on that, they already know what they’re getting themselves into.

If I tell someone face-to-face for the first time at a cocktail party that I think God has it out for me because he screwed me over in Jerusalem, that person will leave the room, or worse, become disinterested.  But online, there’s no need for awkward first conversations, for me to explain the fact that I’m Russian/Jewish, live in Philly but used to live in DC, like really nerdy stuff but also ponies, Nutella, feminism, the whole works.  You already know who I am based on what I write online.  If you accept the fact that I’m weird and nerdy and shy, we can get into a conversation about something else right away.  There is no room for me to get rejected.

For introverts like me, the internet is the best thing that ever happened.  I would have never met Anton in real life, because our circles are too different.  I also would have never, ever, ever met Sophie or David or Sarah or Neil in real life, because I would have been too shy to introduce myself.  Acquaintances have become friends as the result of this blog.  I would have never, ever known anyone who reads and comments on this blog, and all you people are really smart and funny.  My world has grown exponentially.

The Internet is a wonderful thing if you want it to be, and if you have enough common sense to parse out the dangerous parts, which do not include this blog.  I’m like the guy in the white van, only I really am offering only candy. I promise.





9 thoughts on “The Internets has changed how we think about people.

  1. Love this post. The internet has certainly changed a lot in the way we approach life. I too, have made many friends (like you!) and met up with people offline who I only knew from Twitter, blogging, etc. But those relationships and friendships (though not as deep as real-life-friendships) have taught me a lot about the world and has put me in touch with amazing people i might never have met otherwise. I love it!

  2. I can totally relate to and appreciate this post. I met my husband online and had the same thought… Why date and have people get weirded out by my idiosyncrasies when I can just put all my cards on the table and find someone who won’t run away?

    1. I  remember how it used to be taboo to say that you met online but now it seems like no one meets anywhere else anymore, which is kind of cool. 

  3. I’ve had a very active online presence for at least 10 years, and it’s definitely made it easier to interact with some people. On the other hand, the whole lack of privacy worries me. Because I work for a non-profit, I’m seen as representing that non-profit even if I’m doing something completely unrelated. Anything I say can be interpreted as a comment from the organization, and some people take advantage of that.
    Also, if it wasn’t for the Internets, I don’t think we’d have become friends … given that we spent a very limited amount of time together on that trip to Israel and that we hardly communicated for a couple of years afterward. But now I check your blog all the time, I comment on your FB posts, I tweet at you, and we’ve hung out whenever I was in D.C. (P.S. the invitation to Chicago stands … even if the guest room is being overtaken by another purpose, we still have the office with a comfy couch ;-)

  4. I love the poster! The Russian alphabet is so cool from a typography standpoint. As I can’t read Russian, I can only presume the poster is promoting the drinking of beer, which is a good thing.
    The internet is a wonderful tool for meeting new people — and I don’t mean that in a scary way. We occasionally and randomly meet people in libraries, bars or work places. Why not meet them online as well? We still suss out the new people in the same way. Why should we be afraid to meet new people through modern technology?
    I’m with you: I love the internet.

    1. We occasionally and randomly meet people in libraries, bars or work places. Why not meet them online as well? ”

      I never thought about it that way.  Why do we trust people offline more than on?  

      1. You pose a good question. I suppose it has something to do with the fact that when relationships start online, we cannot immediately see our new contact’s face, expressions or body language. We don’t have access to those very telling cues about intentions and personality.

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