Although I’ve been blogging a long time, it’s only in the last couple of years that I’ve started to get serious about it, and social media (as these various channels have become known). I have developed a little online network of people I like to follow, and who, I would like to think, find at least some of what I have to say useful.
Yet as I’ve grown this online network, I’ve become more and more aware of the physical isolation of where I live. As I like to put it, “South until there ain’t more south to go.”
Twitter has probably been the biggest contributor to this increased awareness of isolation. Because Twitter is conversational, it is surprisingly spatial. People talk about where they are going to, who they are going to meet, and so on. Watch long enough, and you start to see some of the people you know crossing paths with each other.
Watching that traffic of information on the net emphasizes the long time I would have to to spend in traffic on the roads to have the face to face interactions others talk about. And I’ve noticed people in other parts of the country sometimes don’t understand the distances involved. “No, you don’t get it. I would have to get up early and drive all day to do that.”
Sure, now I can blog, tweet, and do other sorts of things from where I am and try to create involvement with my research colleagues in ways that I never could have before.
But damn it, there’s still nothing like face to face interaction. Face to face is about the joy of spontaneity, whereas online is about the admiration of the composed.
Are scientists lonely?