It would be disingenuous of me to say I hate the internet and Social Media. I blog and link it all to Facebook. But I’m not exactly in love with it all either.
The internet provides a platform where people can connect and interact in ways that would otherwise be impossible. I’m sometimes inspired by the blogs of others, and the creativity and courage of their authors. But there needs to be a spark of credibility or it all collapses under its own weight.
The internet can of course also be used as a playground by the fantasist. It is not always easy to readily discern what you are actually looking at. Caveat Emptor.
I am slightly bewildered when people inform me that their best friend is someone they have never met. This does not compute. I once met a woman who told me that her daughter was engaged to a man she had never met. It was a ridiculous proposition.
When I used to do internet dating I had a rule of thumb that if someone I contacted wasn’t happy to meet over a coffee or meal within two or three weeks, then the likelihood was that they were either just pissing around or had something to hide. Even if that were not the case, such reluctance suggested to me that perhaps they weren’t really in a place to deal with reality on some level.
I was heartened to meet several reasonable, genuine women who had exactly the same attitude as me. They too had found that men that wanted to perpetuate virtual contact indefinitely were generally not quite to be trusted. It is so easy to hide behind a virtual facade, it is reasonable to assume such behaviour is suspicious.
My favourite blogging psychologist, Jeremy Sherman, is fond of the principle that we constantly make wagers with the world. Bets. We use our instincts and intellect to make good bets and avoid bad bets. But they are still bets. A good bet can turn out to be a losing one, and a bad bet can turn out to be a winner. It’s a natural human weakness to be overly influenced by outcomes. “My friend placed a lousy bet and won so maybe it wasn’t such a bed bet after all”, or conversely, “I placed a good bet that lost, so now I’m going to question if it was a good bet to start with.”
It’s always worth questioning your bet-making algorithms, as long as you aren’t swayed too much by the specific outcomes of individual wagers that you make. Some people are afraid to make any bet unless it’s a one horse race. They want a 99.99% guarantee of a return on their investment, signed in blood and delivered in triplicate.
Life isn’t like that. That’s a recipe for paralysis. It’s a question of balance. You need a lightness of touch, and be willing to lose. I like the novels of Milan Kundera, and you are in trouble unless you can wrap your head around The Unbearable Lightness of Being and the way that decisions and choices made in the moment have a habit of spiralling into the future and eventually become your past.
2016 awaits. I will blog. Hopefully connect virtually with some interesting folk as a result. Take it all with a pinch of salt. Strive for credibility. Look for it in others. Try and make good bets and not worry too much if I lose a few.
Happy New Year.