It probably won’t come as much of a surprise to anyone when I admit that my isolated lifestyle is starting to wear on me. The fact is that the lack of human contact, physical contact especially, is beginning to make me feel like I’m not even real anymore. It’s like I’m actually becoming what you experience when you read my words – a disembodied voice speaking through a machine. I think I really need to do something about it before I go completely off the deep end.
But what? The most obvious answer is that I should get out of my damned apartment and go where I can interact with people I’d feel comfortable interacting with. I know that such places must exist somewhere in the world outside my apartment doors but, as insane as it might sound, I can’t think of a single instance!
Now don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I can’t think of any places I’d like to go. It’s just that I can’t think of any places I’d like to go alone! Sure, I can tell myself that if I go to the kind of places I’d like to be, I’m likely to meet other people who feel the same way I do about those places. But the fact is that every time I’ve tried that, I felt so alien and out of place that I couldn’t even bring myself to make eye contact with the other people there.
Okay, so maybe the “cold contact” approach isn’t for me. So why not make use of the wonderful technology at my fingertips to meet like minded people in cyberspace? The kind of people that I might want to meet later in the real world? This line of thinking leads, of course, to the world of Internet Chat Rooms and On-line Dating. How could I not find an answer in the seemingly infinite potential offered by the Internet?
The answer to that question is really quite simple, and it actually brings me full circle to how I got into this mess in the first place: I don’t do small talk! As much as that little part of me envies the people who’ve mastered it, I’ve never been able to dedicate myself to mastering what I honestly consider to be the art of spouting bullshit. And as anyone who has spent time in chat rooms or has corresponded using email or Internet Messaging knows, it’s all about the ability to communicate in small, easily digestible, chunks of trivia.
The strange thing is that, according to a study reported in ScientificAmerican.com: Happy People Talk More Seriously:
…sometimes small talk can lead to interesting connections. [But] they found that the happiest participants spent 70 percent more time talking with others than the least happy people. But more than just measuring amount of time spent talking with others, they also found a difference in the type of conversation happier folks engage in…
…The happiest participants had twice as many substantive conversations and only a third as much small talk as those who are least content.
One of my hopes, when I started this blog, was that I’d develop a network of on-line friends with whom I could communicate on a deeper level than I have experienced in my off-line existence. But I must admit that, as much as I have enjoyed the exploration that my writing has made possible, this deeper purpose has not been met. Hell, I rarely even get a comment one way or the other on the posts that I’ve really poured myself into writing.
As far as pursuing on-line relationships are concerned, the most honest communication that I’ve witnessed seems to be happening only on those “hook-up” sites where people are just trying to find a temporary sexual partner. But sites like that are a mixed blessing at best. As someone who feels like some sort of “freak” most of the time, I admit to sometimes thinking that perhaps I’m best off amongst the other freaks. But I suspect that however much “honesty” is communicated on these sites, the relationships, if any, developed through them will be superficial – and strange – at best, and most definitely lacking in philosophical depth!
I also suspect that most of these sites are geared towards getting into an entirely different part of their members pants that what those who seek them out might think: their pockets! I guess they think that if you can afford to date, then you can afford to pay for a date. But isn’t prostitution illegal?
I want ice water.