In computer programming terms, there's a very old one, called GIGO, or "Garbage In, Garbage Out.  In human terms, it's equivalent is:  You get out of something what you put into it. 

In this column:  Daniel Drolet • Lonely connectedness  writes:

I don't know about you, but I find myself increasingly lonely these days.

Now, I've said "lonely," but I don't think that's quite the right word. In fact, I don't know that a word has been invented yet that adequately describes the way I'm feeling.

You see, I find that while I have plenty of contact with plenty of people, much of it is virtual - via e-mail, text messaging or Internet-dependent platforms such as Facebook. So while I am always connected, I am - in very important ways - disconnected and, for lack of a better word, lonely.

My Canadian Oxford Dictionary defines lonely as "solitary, isolated, without companions."

By that definition, I am not lonely.

I share my life with a partner, I have regular contact with family and friends, I have a social life and participate in a number of outside activities. Even though I am self-employed, I do not work at home. Instead, I share office space with three other self-employed people. And because I usually walk to work, I always bump into people I know. I do not lead a solitary existence.

But the way I interact with people has changed. It's speeded up and it's increasingly done through the Internet.

For example, because my computer is always on, I find that when something crosses my mind it's easy just to send an e-mail. It might be a query to my partner about a social event on our calendar, or a quick note to my mother to let her know I'm back from a holiday. I like having a collection of Facebook friends, too, and enjoy keeping them updated and reading about their exploits.

This is a common trap.  I find myself falling into it all the time.  You get spread so thin, that any interactions you have online are brief, easy "Post and Go".  You're not really engaging with people, you're just reciting a soliloquy.  You find your passion fading away.  When this happens to me, I tell myself, "You only get out of something what you put into it", and I go back to trying to engage, and remind myself of all the fascinating people out there, and go seek them out and engage with them.  Daniel Drolet on the other hand, writes a column, and blames the medium

I can't argue with the ease and speed of communication the Internet brings. But I am increasingly convinced that it is the Internet itself, the time we spend on it, that keeps us from connecting properly to real live people.

I stress the word "properly."

That's because there's more to being connected than the ability to communicate via e-mail, Facebook, a text message or a new video on YouTube. Internet connections are quick, efficient for communicating information, but in the end they are superficial. What's missing to make the communication "proper" (and ultimately satisfying) is the added dimension that dealing with real live people brings.

After saying how convenient it is to keep in touch with people online, he then blames the internet itself for his loneliness, and his lack of connection, not deeming it "proper"


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17 August 2007