WE CALL WHERE WE ARE HERE, at our little ostomy site, a part of the blogosphere, which is a sub-world of the greater enormity known as cyberspace. All of our interacting is electronic tinkering. We each sit alone somewhere, in a limited physical world with which we have become familiar, typing at a computer keyboard and then clicking a designated place upon a screen or keyboard, thus to send out in some magical, mystical, indecipherable way our message. The message itself, if we may call it that, then whirls off into the cybermist, like breath into cold air, and either dissipates or connects with a recipient who, in order to receive, must affirmatively act by clicking upon his or her personal receiver, his or her computer, in order to activate whatever responsive cyber-connector exists that then brings together message sender and message recipient.
The words and images appear before us, on our electronic screens, in much the same way that speech and action are depicted electronically upon the television screens we all have. They have been forwarded from one place, by means of the technological marvels we call computers and televisions, to the place where we sit waiting and selecting what to view and what not to view. In a sense, our selection process is analogous to when our grandparents decided whether to subscribe to one newspaper or another. Or when our parents entered a bookstore and selected between, say, popular current fiction versus a non-fiction memoir.
My friends here at this site may not be professional writers, but they certainly can communicate, and if I choose to be a recipient of their respective messages, then I am allowing myself to be open to the potential impact of their words just as readily as if I’d picked up a Dickens classic.
One thing about cyberspace, however, that distinguishes it from the more old-fashioned means of communication is the potential for anonymity. In cyberspace, it is possible to publish without ever identifying oneself to anyone. Many maintain their anonymity and establish acquaintances with other anonymous posters, never knowing in reality who the other person really is. I read Lovely’s posts, but I don’t know her name, and she thinks my name is HenryM.
I must confess to a nagging, almost dreadful, discomfort about my use of cyberspace. I enter it – by turning on my computer, and connecting to the internet – with a certain amount of unease. This is partly due to my admittedly old school mentality, for I have pleasant memories of the aroma of mimeograph machines and still love the smell of a library, its shelves of books giving off the great stench of the past. But it is also in part the result of my feeling that the world-wide web’s existence within this Cyber Age is a significant aspect of the so-called dumbing-down of our times. The Cyber Age, or the Era of Information, or whatever discrete moniker one applies to it, is both cause as well as effect. The fact of the matter is, we are not the avid seekers after knowledge that we used to be. We are satisfied with less, and we are less willing to devote the effort and the time to learn the way we used to do. But information is not knowledge, and “Jeopardy” champions are not sages.
I know that time is precious in all our lives. While such wonders of our age as statistics and information may have their place, we all need knowledge imparted by intelligent, literate thinkers in order to fill the void in our lives. Cyberspace is part of that void, I fear. If you limit yourself to that, you limit yourself.