Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Log out of the chatroom and login to reality

It’s probably disturbing to hear, but nowadays many of us are having relationships not with people, but with machines! Sounds weird right? Well, you might be one of them. No, you say? Let me ask you this, when was the last time you yelled at your computer when it froze on you? Or when was the last time you thanked your computer because it did what you wanted it to do? I bet some of you even talk to your computer from time to time. No, I don’t mean using your computer to talk to a friend living in another city or country, but actually talking to your machine like it can really hear, understand, and sympathize with what you’re saying. The experts are finding out that many people relate to their computer like it has feelings, and are even afraid to make their computer upset!

Nowadays, it’s not at all uncommon that the computer is the one thing in our life that we spend the most time with. Forget about mothers, brothers, or friends, the computer has replaced our parents, our siblings, and our pals. Have a problem? Go on the internet and google an answer. Bored? Turn on the computer and play games. Need a friend to talk to? Join a chat room and talk to countless anonymous people all over the world.

The computer has become the main gateway to happiness and fun for so many of us. With that much time spent with something, it’s inevitable that we begin to form a bond with the machine. But of course, we don’t just have relationships with computers alone. There are plenty of other machines that we pay attention to as well. I mean, when you’re riding on the bus or the subway, you gotta leave the computer at home. So, now comes the Ipod. Ever since this little machine was invented, lots of things have changed. You get on the train for a ride and you’ll see about half of the people have their ears tuned in to what’s playing on their Ipod or some other MP3 player. The Ipod makes sure that no matter where we go, we’ll never be bored because we’ve got our favorite tunes playing at the press of a button. You can be sitting in a crowded bus for an hour ride and see that no one really talks to each other, but many have got their ears attached to headsets. And the ones who aren’t listening to music are staring unconsciously at signboards along the sides of the road.

I know. Some of you may argue that the computer and the internet “connect” people because you can send out an email to a friend on some remote island on the other side of the world in mere seconds, and you can Skype your pals in Europe for free, or get to know total strangers from Africa without having to ever set foot outside of your bedroom. All that’s true. And I grant you the internet is reaaaallly wonderful. I don’t know what I would do without it.

But let me ask you this. When was the last time you sat down and chat with your dad for an hour, even though you’d spend hours and hours at a time chatting with some total stranger who plays the same online game as you? When was the last time you played ball with your little brother, and used actual balls instead of the mouse or the joystick? When was the last time you made friends with a real person outside that you can see their whole face, body, and can shake hands with?

True. People on the internet are people too, even though a lot of times, they lie about their gender, their age, their height, where they live, and whether they’re axe murderers or not. But the way I see it, if you can’t see someone’s face and smell their perfume/cologne or their breath, then it’s still not the real thing. Maybe some of us prefer it that way. When we spend time with the computer and the people on the internet, we do it the way we like it. If we don’t like some one in chat room A, we click on to chat room B. We can be 15 years old and tell the other person we’re 25, and they’ll still believe us. We can do and say all sorts of things and get away with it. And if we don’t feel like talking anymore, just log out.

Spending time with the computer is way easier than spending time with our family or even our friends outside. When we talk to people that we know, we can’t be saying things that are obviously false. Outside, we deal with real people with real issues. We see them and they see us. We know them and they know us. When there’s something difficult, we can’t just log out and shut down. But that’s what life is about. That’s what’s real.

Unfortunately, nowadays too many of us don’t like the real thing. We prefer the artificial, uncomplicated, made up world on the internet. We laugh, cry, get angry, hug, and even give kisses to people online, using the various “emotion” icons on the computer. But at the end of the day, none of those things leave us a warm feeling inside that’s hard to describe as when two people are actually laughing with one another, hugging one another, and kissing one another. Poets write poems about a gentle hug or a romantic kiss, but you’ll never see them extolling the beauty of an online laugh, hug, or kiss. The fact is giving someone an online hug has sentimental value less than giving someone a piece of old chewing gum.

You’re probably saying you know this and you can separate the real world from the fake world. Still, the way I see it, most of us are really great at avoid having relationships with the people around us. When we’re at home, we lock ourselves in the bedroom, most likely doing something on the computer. When we’re in the car, we’ve got music blasting on the stereo. When we’re on the metro, we have our ears glued to Ipod.

But when we do this, we’re really missing out because we don’t let ourselves have the opportunity to enjoy the people all around us, and the random friendliness that may occur. Let’s say you ride on a bus and see a girl or guy that you think is really really cute. But if that person’s got his/her ears attached to headseats, how could you ever strike up a conversation and let that person know you like them? And if you happen to be the cute one, how can anyone tell you if you’re too busy listening to music. In the end, you might even miss out on a great boy/girlfriend. You’ll never get any of those feelings that come from holding hands or a hug, or a gentle kiss. All you have left are those silly Yahoo Messenger icons that represent supposedly what your emotions are.

If you don’t know by now, life is about having relationships with real people, the ones who live with you, who you see at school, on the street, in your neighborhoods, and at your work. If you cannot have good relationships with these people, then it’s useless to try having good relationships with people who live faraway or who you cannot even see. The peoples close to you should be the ones you invest your time and emotions in first. You find love and friendship through these people because you can get to know them the best and they also know you the best. They are the ones who make you feel the most pain, but also the greatest love. The people around you show real emotions with their face. And they also want to see the same from you. Life is not found in chat rooms. Friendship is not just about sharing an interest in the same online game. And love is not about YM icons.

There is much for all of us to discover. We can do it on the computer. Through the internet, we can go many places far and wide. But don’t forget that all around us, there are still so many things we have yet to see and understand, and there are many people for us to get to know. So you have to decide. Do you want to have real relationships with real people or are you happy spending your days and nights with just online games, chatrooms, and artificial hugs and kisses?

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