Monday, July 21, 2008

Both are Transformed

"The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances. If there is any reaction, both are transformed." -Carl Jung

I meant to write a well-reasoned, yet passionate counterpoint to Graham Wegner's posting about the "point" of online social interaction.

By citing "leading experts" on cyberspace, and quoting scholarly studies, I had planned to explain my intensely emotional response to meeting some of my virtual friends face to face in San Antonio.

But I'm tired, my summer schedule has been at least as hectic as my school schedule. So I'll settle for a personal response.

My online connections are invaluable for extending my professional knowledge. I'm able to access a rich assortment of resources; there is help available if I run into difficulties; sympathy and encouragement are only a keyboard away.

I want more.

I want to see and hear and interact with a person, in real time, in physical proximity. I want to observe expressions and body language, to share a hug and a joke. I want to follow a conversational thread where ever it might lead, and make startling discoveries or not.

I want to made the virtual "real".

My online, real time friend, Terry Shay, blogged about Friends today. His wife remarked that he really didn't know me, but she's wrong. We know each other very well because of conversations and interactions in cyber space.

I have close friends now who are scattered around the globe. I firmly believe that one day I will meet many of them face to face. That doesn't negate the value of online collaboration and social networking. It enhances it immeasurably.

"There is an electricity about a friendship relationship. We are both more relaxed and more sensitive, more creative and more reflective, more energetic and more casual, more excited and more serene. It is as though when we come in contact with our friend we enter into a different environment.” Andrew M. Greeley

"Net Surfers don’t ride alone." -Smith and Kollock, Communities in Cyberspace

"spark" by Burning Image


TJ Shay said...

When my wife said I didn't 'know' you, it was before we met in person...and also exhibited what might have been my response before I started Twittering and Plurking. The traditional definition of 'knowing' a person includes knowledge of the physical realm. All that changed.

Because, Diane, I do know you! Even before I met you in real life, I knew that you were a very kind person who took time to get to know people and to care deeply for people. Someone who jumps in and says (and means) nice things that brighten the day of someone who is struggling.

In my case, you jumped to my defense when an adult was rude to me...Something that a person I knew in real life might not have done. You have shown yourself to be a person of high character. So, even if I hadn't met you, I would still be glad to know you!

You inspire me!

Anonymous said...

Diane -

Well, I KNOW we'll meet in person because you're my cyber mother, so all I can say is,

"I'll see you in New Orleans. I'll be the one with the pina colada - and maybe a laptop if I get bored waiting........"

Anonymous said...

Only those who have not made lasting friendships online will make comments like "you don't know them - they can't be your friend."

I will often type more about what I feel than say it in person to someone I consider a friend. My online friendships are INVALUABLE. I have learned much more from my network of friends on Twitter than I have learned from many faculty members I have worked with for nine years. Why? In the "real" world, we often get stuck in cliques and never venture out of them - missing out on some fantastic people.

But in the virtual world, we aren't hindered by the idea of cliques - I have been accepted openly by groups of friends online who have been together for quite some time. Welcomed with open arms.

And I have met many of these online friends in real life - and the conversation begun online just continues. I feel much closer to them than to some of my colleagues.

"I pity the fool" who hasn't made virtual friends who have supported them through the good and bad times. Who have not only offered great professional ideas, but who realize that I am a living, breathing human being and have treated me with compassion.

Anonymous said...

Friends are found like treasure in some unexpected places. You know we are all IN for the girlfest(guess it is in NOLA according to Kate).

diane said...

Terry, Kate, Fran, Linda,

Your responses prove my point!

Kate & Linda,

NOLA it is. Whenever it happens, it will be extraordinary.

Graham Wegner said...

I'm hoping that my post has been to pose some new thinking or to at least to get people to examine why and what they value - I always worry that by citing an example, I will offend (something that you could rightly point out that would be less likely face to face) but that certainly was not my intention. Your post, along with the others I cited, celebrated the f2f connection and strengthening of relationships started in the online world and it just had me thinking, "Where does that leave someone like me?" Through circumstance I am unlikely to be heading your way and you're not likely to be going down under - this virtual crossing of paths is the most connection I can hope for with a lot of the edubloggers that I read (including yours).

diane said...


I was in no way offended! In fact, you spurred me to analyze my emotional response even more closely.

NECC was my first experience with a conference of that size and the first opportunity I had to meet some of my online colleagues.

I realize that I vastly underutilized the resources available in San Antonio, but I honestly couldn't take it all in.

Partly because of my personality and partly because of my generation (the infamous Baby Boomers) I need to believe that one day I will interact face to face with the people I've grown to know and value online.

Realistically this is unlikely. But I don't rule anything out, even Australia.

And I certainly will continue to maintain contact with members of my PLN, both near and far. They enrich my life significantly, and I won't ever give that up.