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A lonely place in cyberspace

subtitles or alternative titles:

Loneliness in cyberspace

Cyberspace encounters

Visiting cyberspace for what?

I am not lonely when I am alone. I only feel lonely when I don't expect or want to be alone.

There lies the rub.

Loneliness is a paradox. In a crowd of strangers, you can feel very lonely and alone. Yet, in the comfort of your own home where you live by yourself, you don't feel lonely. In the pregnant silence of a dead relationship, you can feel extremely alone. Yet, in the silence of your own meditation, you can feel quite happy being by yourself.

Cyberspace is a haven for information and relationship seekers. These days search engines have become so powerful that you can find almost anything you want. Site after site, eventually you will reach a human being that will respond to your queries. From information to communication to relationship, that's how it goes.

Unless you belong to the same group (club, family, neighbourhood, school, company), have a mutual interest or responsibility at stake, or have enough integrity to care about reputation risk, you can interact in cyberspace with little accountability. In other words, you can choose who you flirt with. You can choose who to ignore. You can choose when to end the conversation. You can even be rude.

Why is cyberspace a lonely place then?

People enter cyberspace with the expectation of finding what they are looking for. They don't always know what they want. And sometimes they visit simply out of habit. Through search engines, links, and other tools available in surfers' paradise, they eventually begin a conversation with a human being.

It is a lonely place until you get someone to respond to you. That person, who is independent of all your current friends and associates, could provide the rapport your lonely soul seeks. It's not enough to talk to people you already know. Sometimes it takes a stranger from nowhere (from cyberspace, for example) to fill that void inside of you.

Everyday I get about 50 spam e-mails, including reverse spam (what's this? contact me if you want to know) and filtered VIRUS ALERT: W32/Netsky.B@mm. I have to sieve through them to find the authentic e-mails that require my attention and response. Finding one authentic e-mail makes this effort worthwhile.

Life is like cyberspace. Quality over quantity. Less is more. Just one person who pays attention and gives you feedback in cyberspace could be worth you visiting everyday --- for that encounter or that possibility.

26 May 2004 Wednesday

Related entries & links:
Intimacy of cyberspace encounters
Efficiency in cyberspace
Empathy or solution
Reputation risk
Loneliness will find you - a poem by Alice Lee, who reacted to this entry with "Nodding my head as I read. Once again Anne you have hit the nail right on the head. Your description is efficient and true."
Pre-action (reaction before this piece was written) by anonymous reader:
Cyberspace is not a lonely place... on the contrary, it's crowded with lonely people and bustling with loneliness.
Like a singles bar during happy hours attracting those seeking relationships, cyberspace attracts the lonely and the alone, looking for relationships.
Happy, contented, and fulfilled family men and women do not normally spend time in cyberspace looking for relationships because they are too busy spending time with their own families.
So if you are still doing it, despite planning on getting married, ask yourself why. I'm not talking about self expression stuff, I'm talking about seeking cyberspace relationships.
Why, Anne? (it's your turn to have your thoughts provoked, I hope that's the only provocation) Cheers!
Anne's reply:
You have a very good point. I've been entering cyberspace out of habit as an information junkie. As an attention-challenged individual, I don't visit chatrooms but only enter discussion forums for specific reasons.
However, the occasional good e-mail, a provocative one such as yours, makes me think and causes me to react. Thank you for this, whoever and wherever you are!
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Anne Ku at Ilp in May 2001
Anne Ku

writes about her travels, conversations, thoughts, events, music, and anything else that is interesting enough to fill a web page.
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