Living via World Wide Web
Living online doesn't always mean you're a shut in, just web-savvy.
Published: Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Updated: Sunday, October 17, 2010 08:10
I'm a blogger. I'm not ashamed to say it. People say that one can't trust what you find on the Internet, that no one is who they really are online. But I disagree. For people who aren't the most sociable characters, interacting online is the purest way they can express themselves. I'm not the most outgoing person. I hate "meeting" people. I figure, if I find out that we have nothing in common, it was a waste of my time getting to know you. And interacting via blogging and "microblogging," you skip all that. You already know that person shares a common interest with you, so you already have something to talk about. From there, you find out that there are lots of the same things that you all love. Music, for instance, is a strong part of my life. But I'm a college student, so I don't always get my music by purchasing it, or else I'd go completely broke. And we know by now the whole idea of the record store is slowly fading out. Buying music isn't like in "Empire Records" anymore, where one hangs out at a local record store and chats with people who pick up the same CDs. Nope - we share music online and I figure the more fans, the better. And what's a faster way than the Internet? For me, it's the band We Are Scientists (WAS). They have a strong following in the UK, but haven't hit it big here in the U.S. yet, which is how I like it. With my small group of WAS fans, we feel like a close-knit community. For the first time in my life, I have friends all across the world - Scotland, Germany, New York, California, England - that I know all love the same band, among other things. And if I'm awake at 3 a.m. for some reason, I know my friend from Scotland will be fully awake to respond to any tweets I send her way because it's noon the next day for her. Sure, Twitter also gets a lot of slack for being pointless chatter about one's mundane day-to-day tasks, but it really isn't any different from text messaging if you use it the right way. At least, that's how I use it most of the time. But Twitter can also be used for rapid relaying of news. People are already on their iPhones all the time, so why not keep up with the most tweet-worthy stories while you're playing the new Rock Band app. Most people would criticize the whole idea of meeting people on the web. I would never do "online dating," because with a romantic relationship, there needs to be a different kind of chemistry. But with friends, I take full advantage of having a group of people I can talk to in any part of the world. Something happened to my recently that was quite remarkable, at least I thought it was cool. Two weeks ago, I went to a gig at the Showbox in Seattle, featuring the bands Natalie Portman's Shaved Head (NPSH) and Ladyhawke. There was this guy standing behind me at the show, and I never found out his name, but he was cool enough. We chatted a bit, he flirted with the one girl in the band, he danced like crazy, and he wore a plaid shirt. The next day, when I blogged about the show, it was nothing out of the ordinary for me - gushing about one of my favorite bands, saying how it was one of the greatest shows of my life, and how funny "Plaid Guy" was. On Wordpress, the blogging client I use, there's a tool that shows the user where people clicked on links to your blog. The next day after I posted it, there were several referrers which I recognized - Google, Twitter, my own Facebook page - but there was a Facebook profile I didn't recognize. I clicked on it, but when I got to the profile, the only thing I could see was the profile picture. I didn't know the name, but I looked at the picture closely. It was Plaid Guy. Seriously. I'm not kidding. Not only did someone from the show find my measly blog in the huge World Wide Web, it was the one guy standing behind me at the show, of whom I wrote about. At that point, I was pretty shaken up, but not in a bad way. I friend requested the guy, and sent him a message, mentioned the pingback from my blog to his Facebook page, and asked him how he found it. Apparently, he searched for posts with pictures from the show the next day using the keywords "npsh" and "showbox," and mine was the first one listed. What was the whole point of this seemingly mundane story? Most people say that the Internet is a vast universe of trash, only rarely finding pages worthwhile, and that it's easy to lose yourself in the World Wide Web. I say it can be a cultivator of close communities. And sometimes, those close communities can grow into huge followings. You can discover things that can change your life. That is, of course, if you know where to look.