An Introvert’s Homage to the Internet" />
The official student newspaper of The Hockaday School

The Fourcast

The official student newspaper of The Hockaday School

The Fourcast

The official student newspaper of The Hockaday School

The Fourcast

Ms. Day speaks to Hockaday students as well as other students in the Dallas area as part of her role to involve Hockaday students in the community and lead them to fulfill their purpose.
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An Introvert’s Homage to the Internet

I don’t enjoy parties. I never have. At mixers, I’m the one dawdling in the corner at least six feet from the nearest male. Had I been cast onto Earth as a motorcycle wheel, I would have been the spare. Group projects, too—in whatever way they resemble parties (shows you how much I know)—have never been my cup of tea. To put it plainly, I am a shameless introvert.

But there’s something different about the internet, something that draws even the most introverted out of their shells. And this, I think, is what makes the internet such a perfect tool. For all the flak it takes from the barrage of killjoys who accuse it of destroying human relationships, I say the internet has done a pretty darn good job of keeping these relationships alive and well.

Alex Pattakos, contributor to the Huffington Post, recently wrote that “the joys of real human contact are being replaced by electronic stimuli and ‘shallow’ friendships.”

Really? I expect similar concerns were raised among adults in reaction to the telephone, the landline and the cell phone. Yet somehow we have coped for all these years, and most of us still have friends—even close friends.

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As I write this—with Facebook opened in another tab, along with Reddit, Gmail and, at least by the time I finish, Tumblr—I wonder if Alex Pattakos really had any friends to begin with.

I say this not on any personal basis (my knowledge of Pattakos’s social life is severely limited), but because I don’t see how one who has ever had a true friend could claim that, simply because I have the ability to stay in touch with my friends when away from them, I will be any less inclined to dump my heart out to them when the school bell rings for lunch tomorrow.

Personally, I don’t plan on spending tomorrow’s lunch in the library chatting through a computer screen with my Facebook chums, because when it comes time to choose between 368 “friends” and ten friends, I don’t think I would be alone in choosing the latter. In the end, the only time I plan on spending in cyber union with my remote internet acquaintances is time that, in an age before internet, I would have spent staring at a wall, or perhaps organizing the shoes on my shoe rack.

In other words, the internet grants me more social contact than I would otherwise commit myself to—even if it is only, as in the words of the naysayers, “social” contact (with extra gestural emphasis on the quotation marks).

The fact is, we all need face-to-face interaction, introverts and extroverts alike, but the internet offers something refreshingly different.

The internet provides a leveling ground. Behind the luminous shield of the computer screen, we shed our inhibitions and become that person buried beneath the drudgery of the public presence. And with such a vast pool of individuals who are, for the most part, uninhibited by social cues and customs, collaboration becomes a much more straightforward process.

Suddenly, that conspicuous rift between introvert and extrovert, between young and old, experienced and novice, disappears entirely. Sure, the internet has its slums, but these are eclipsed by the enormous potential of the unified masses, potential that still could be tapped with already popularized concepts like crowdsourcing, social networking and crowdfunding.

Programs like Kickstarter allow prospective vendors to come in direct contact with prospective consumers. The only middleman: the computer screen. When everything from the clothes we buy to the food we eat has become so estranged from its source, this kind of intimacy in the buying, funding and even the manufacturing process, is undeniably humanizing.

Perhaps, in this small way, the internet has brought us back to our roots, restored relationships that modern culture would have destroyed permanently. Regardless of what they say, the internet is not destroying our humanity, nor is it distorting our perception of friendship. It does, however, offer us an alternative to getting our eardrums blown out on a Saturday night, and that, for the average introvert (myself included), is enough.

-Annabel

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