Don’t IM me, touch me

Allison Pritchard

When I was in sixth grade, I met my first boyfriend, Joe, online. I thought I was going to marry him and move to Disney World. Ever since then, the Internet has been nothing but a constant source of heartache, confusion and avoidance of the real world.

A decade ago, people got to experience genuine interactions face-to-face, or at least over the telephone. Now that’s been exchanged for the addicting computer: AIM, AOL, Myspace, Facebook and the dreaded three-page midnight e-mail.

Countless hours are wasted in front of the computer screen. Right click to “Get Buddy Info.” Jump on Facebook to stalk distant acquaintances. View “Friends with Updated Profiles.” Check to see if their profile says “In a Relationship.”

Look at so-and-so’s new picture. She looks like she’s having a great life of friends, smiles and beer bottles. Why does my life suck so much? Look at so-and-so from high school’s new boyfriend. God, he is unfortunate looking. Look at that band geek who just got married. Wow, she put on weight.

In middle school, I would spend days on the new, exciting America Online. I was so thrilled to meet people from the area and ask “A/S/L?” I vicariously lived a booming social life through the computer.

Then moving to high school, I used my computer to get acquainted with boys I liked. I would read their profiles and instant message them. I spent many nights smiling in front of a computer screen. I would talk to my classmates online and think it was the coolest thing ever.

If I could go back, I would have hung out with these people in person instead. It’s too easy to misunderstand people online. You can never tell when people are being sarcastic or if they’ve decided to stop talking to you, or simply need to get up to use the bathroom. You also miss out on everything else that comes with spending time with people in person.

Now that I’m in college, practically everyone I know experiences the vices of the Internet. It’s always disturbing to view someone’s profile and get that pain in your gut when you read something you just didn’t want to read, or when you see your old best friend’s pictures of her beautiful life. Then there are the oodles of people who write online journals so they can validate their existence by telling some fictional version of their lives.

The computer is the easy way out. That’s why it’s so attractive. You can express yourself without having to explain yourself. You can shout a message to the world and hope someone actually cares and will save you from yourself. You can vicariously live your life through IMs. You don’t even have to get to know any of your friends anymore – all you have to do is plop their name into Facebook and poof – instant research. A life defined in a page.

It’s time for people to go out and live like normal human beings. Go hang out with your friends. Don’t spend four hours saying “lol” to them through the computer. Go talk to that loser boyfriend of yours or the hot girl you’re lusting over. Go sing by someone’s window instead of posting some lame song lyric in your profile.

Life is too short to be spent on the computer.

Allison Pritchard is a senior electronic media production major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].