Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Navigating the Two Realms

I'm scared. Very much so. It's midnight and I'm lying in bed, my mind restless as I try to unravel the digital strands of my presence on the Interwebs and order them in a more structured manner. It feels as though my online life is getting out of hand and Twitter is the final frontier facing me and then total virtual chaos. I'm on almost every other online social platform: FacebookGoogle+BlogspotShelfariLinked InYou TubeBBMMxit and a myriad of forums and other bobbles. My digital life is just more than I can live - it's too overwhelming!

Navigating The Circular Ruins of my mind.
People feel hassled and harried in the 'real' world as is, what with the breakneck pace of daily living to put food on the table and hang a 42-inch LCD TV on the wall. Then there's a whole other landscape (or is it more mindscape?) to navigate in form of the digital frontier - especially with the rise of social networks. Life is much easier now in terms of communication than is was some years back and it's so much more difficult at the same time. This paradox doesn't bother us much I've noticed, it's just the way it is these days and we go with the flow. We adapt and survive I guess. Also, we don't. I'm being coy with you aren't I? With all these little paradoxes. Well, it's because of how schizophrenic we've become - pieces of our beings divided between the 'real' and virtual realms. For the most part we cope with the strain quite well and then, to paraphrase William Butler Yeats, there are the times when things fall apart and our centre can no longer hold.

Then there's a whole other landscape (or is it more mindscape?) to navigate in form of the digital frontier - especially with the rise of social networks.

I'm a little OCD about things and like a certain degree of order to my online life, which is at odds with the chaotic nature of the Internet. It's difficult to keep track of the pieces of our selves that we put on social platforms. I always feel as though I've no real control of my virtual existence and that scares me at night! My dreams are riddled with post apocalypse scenes of Terminators roaming blasted landscapes and enslaving humans to do the god of technology's evil bidding. This, of course, is the rather exaggerated fear of an overactive mind and it holds very little water but it is symbolic of the relationship we have with the Internet and navigating that space.

We are connected to so many people and share with them our day to day activities and thoughts even though we don't really 'know' them all that well. Sure, you went to primary school with Thato and Shannon but when was the last time you really got to talk to them? It's nice having the option to catch up at the push of a button but we rarely actually reach out and do so. It's not because we don't want to, it's simply because we have too much choice and it's overwhelming. I've noticed that BBM already cuts into my time doing everything else. Whilst I'm reading, writing, eating, watching a movie and all manner of other life activities that menacing flashing red light appears on my Blackberry to inform me of a message awaiting my rapid response. Balancing 'real' life and digital life is a difficult act.

People keep telling me to make the jump onto the Twitter wagon as it will make it easier to connect with my friends because Facebook is dying. I can see the need to make the shift somewhat because people are always talking about my online activities like blogging on Twitter and I have to hear from other people that something I wrote is popular on Twitter. But I worry about the balancing act and how much more of my limited time I'll be spending on Twitter as opposed to being out and about staring at clouds.

I'm interested to know how you guys manage the balancing act. Is it a seamless transition navigating the two realms or, much like my experience; is it a herky jerky fumbling between the two? Please let me know.

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