“Is that safe?”

October 16, 2008 at 2:19 am | Posted in Blogging | Leave a comment

I’m on a work trip right now and missed most of the last presidential debate.  I was a little bummed because I had a lot of fun with the live blogging/discussion at This Ain’t Hell last time and I was pretty sure it was going to happen again.  Before we headed out to dinner I told my friend/co-worker that I wanted to make it back on time so I could do the live blog again.  She asked what a live blog was and I gave a brief description of what was going to happen (there  is this website I read, people go to it during the debates and they use a program that lets you basically “chat” about what is happening while listening).  The first sentence in her response was actually a question- “Is it safe?”.  She said more after that, but her basic concern was the idea that I would be participating in this “discussion” with a bunch of people I don’t know and that you don’t *really* know who anyone is on the internet.

In a way she’s right, I don’t *really* know who any of the other people are, but they don’t *really* know who I am either.  If someone who knows me in “real life” stumbled upon this blog, they would know it was mine because of some of the things I’ve written, but it would be hard for someone reading the blog to find me if they started looking (although I can’t say it would be impossible).  I take some precautions online and I think I’m prudent about it, but I don’t obsess about them.

When it comes to internet “relationships” and interactions, I think some of the differences between internet and “real life” are what bring the challenges and/or risks, and not necessarily risks or challenges in a “safety” sense.  When you only interact with people online, whether it is through blogs/webpages, email, or some type of chat program, you are missing out on a lot of the essential aspects of communication.  Nonverbal communication is a biggie.  When all you have to rely on are words on paper and the occasional emoticon (it took me a while to become comfortable with them too) there is a lot of room for misunderstanding and unintentional hurt feelings.  This isn’t what she was referring to when she asked, “Is it safe?” but it is a part of internet life.

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