The Truth about Online Culture 3/24/99

"... recent surveys indicate that fully half of all online users have given out false information in surveys." Ben Greenman, Yahoo Magazine

But for all we know, they may have been lying.

"People online lie about everything -- age, appearance, location, et cetera. We've always had to deal with all kinds of lies in real life, long before there was any Internet. Lots of people dye their hair. Most people don't find that too upsetting." Judith Donath interviewed in same article

I wasn't at all upset that HotPnts69 was actually a 300 lb plumber from Des Moines ... until he told me he wasn't really a blonde.

"How do you twist your identity? Well, to filch a technicality from the president, that depends on what your definition of your is. Off-line identities are encased in bodies. A body occupies physical space. It can't be in more than one place at a time. It isn't exactly the same as any other body. An individual identity can be mapped perfecty onto a body and a real-world name is merely a label for a body." B.G. again

I think ... therefore I think I'm Jim Morrison.

"But there are many other apsects of my personality that I want to share, from my TV projects to health information to charities I care about ... I know there are lots of nice sites out there but none that reflects me and comes from me." Cindy Crawford on starting her very own web site.

I want to know everything that's going on inside that mind of hers ... right up until she puts her clothes back on.

"<The Net> gives you the illusion of being with people -- you're out there on the World Wide Web -- but you are really just sitting by yourself at home. To me that's lonely ... it's not real human interaction in my opinion." C.C. again

I guess if I were a witless super-model in a Chat Room with twenty-one other witless persons, it might not feel 'real' to me either. "Hello everywon ... Super-model here ... why am I bean egnoared?"

"Standing next to someone may tell you more than talking to them on a computer. Pheromones don't travel over computer networks." C.C.

<Cindy Crawford> + <4" of duct tape> = <Perfect Woman>

As you can see from these excerpts, I just read two truly amazing little articles. Amazing because of their insight? Amazing because someone finally put into words what I've been thinking all along but didn't know how to express?

Not even close.

No doubt you can tell by now that the first was about the lies told online. The crowd reading this page has all been there. "I'm wearing pretty pink panties." "I'm 18 and people say I look like Kathy Bates." "I'm 6'5 and I write novels." Lies coming at us from every direction ... because we can escape ourselves rather nicely when we're reduced to text on a screen, can't we?

The bottom-line about Online Lies is that it really doesn't matter what we're being told out here, does it? With few exceptions (and you know who you are) no one out here is real to me. They're words on a screen and nothing more -- just as I am words on a screen and nothing more. And I lump all of those words I read into a pile I call 'Fiction' and don't worry about it. There's nothing that pile of words can do to harm me (so long as I don't start sending them money), so what does it matter?

And then there's that other thing I have to address ... the idea that this isn't real human interaction. This is where I expand on the 'exceptions' mentioned above. When Forag4eva tells me her kids are late coming home from school, I worry with her. When Nyrve tells me that his company is going national and his job is about to get much bigger, I celebrate with him. When Sarah tells me her baby's doing fine, this pleases me greatly.

Because there are a few people that I've known long enough for them to become Real, and these people are every bit as real as the Fleshies who walk in and out of my life.

And the idea that I need to have some woman's pheromones clouding my mind before I can really get to know her ... pure bunk. If I can get to know her out here ... if she can prove to me that she's not witless with only words at her disposal ... well-then, that's a woman to contend with.

Especially if she looks just like Sports Illustrated's Heidi Klum. Oofah!

" ... I know a lot of normal people who have an inner passion and an inner self-esteem that comes out. It's very attractive. That is beauty."     C.C.

How'm I lookin' Darlin'?