30 August 2004
With increasing dependence and access to the Internet, we have found a certain comfort zone in the chat-rooms or instant messaging with friends around the world. For some, chatting is as natural as talking to someone tete-à-tete (face-to-face). But how important is it really?
For those that are miles and miles away, it is perhaps the cheapest and most effective way to communicate in real time. And with the advent of web cameras (webcams), the experience can be as “real” as possible.
But for those that are living in the same city, won’t talking face-to-face be a better solution? I am a self-confessed computer addict, much less a cyber-addict. I have to have my piece of internet time everyday. I spend my time chatting away from 11 p.m. to the wee hours of the morning and my chat-mate lives in the same city.
It has become such a habit to come home to the PC, to see my chat-mate logged on and to be ready for another night of chatting away. Some topics are more interesting to talk about than others which make the conversation virtually timeless.
We have both found comfort in coming home and seeing each other online. It was a way to recount the day’s events, the day’s thoughts, and to discuss what will come for tomorrow’s day. But I go back to my question: Is chatting online still the best option for two people who live in the same city? There is still merit in the spoken word.
I had proposed to my chat-mate that we take a one-week sabbatical from chatting and resort to more conventional means of communications, i.e. speaking. I received a hesitant "but i'll miss the cyber U. just U!" This sabbatical is a form of cyber celibacy that can only heighten the excitement of really meeting people. It was also a way in what my chat-mate describes as “killing the cyber persona” that was created online.
The experiment is now on its third day and we have managed to see each other twice for that “celibate” period. There has been a conscious effort to stay in touch without the ethernet in between. I find it more refreshing to share a drink or to talk in the park or wherever. Of course, the silence is more pronounced during those meetings instead of the pauses in chatting; but they are part of reality. But just as it is a part of life, silence is part of a conversation.
For all those people out there, who have access to internet and have a chance to meet people, try the latter. It will be a welcomed changed. Being celibate in the cyber sense can bring out the “life” that was created online.