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the wide world is getting smaller

Recently I’ve been fascinated by online culture. Everything about it, from people living their entire social lives from their desk chairs, to the folks that dabble occasionally, to those that actually make a living online, sharing themselves, their thoughts and their lives with the world.

See, here’s the thing.

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These are my grandparents (aren’t they adorable? Love them.) Neither of them would probably know an online persona if it came up and bit them. Godblessit.

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This is me. Up until a couple years ago, I wouldn’t have known an online persona if it bit me in the ass either, but I am perhaps a little more dialed in than my grandparents.

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This is The Kid. He is way more dialed in that either me or my grandparents, spending most of his time when he’s not at school, doing homework, or doing chores online playing games with his online game playing friends.

People today can have what’s referred to as an “online presence”. You can follow the minutiae of their lives via Twitter, Yelp, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Tumblr, WordPress (woot!) and a slew of other social networking and self-advertising sites. Honestly, I don’t even know what half of those sites do, I just think by mentioning them, I hopefully sound connected and smart.

These kinds of people have personas that they’ve spent time and effort cultivating. Almost a brand, if you will, of themselves and their message. It’s all very interesting. You can select parts of yourself to share with the wider world…share whatever facet of your personality fits this online person you’ve created.

You can sell something or sell yourself or just cultivate a reputation in something like blogging or online gaming. People see what you present.

I don’t think it’s a false presentation either…online you can be just the parts of yourself that you want to be. You don’t have to be whatever you are in real life…whether that’s someone’s mom, daughter, sister, wife, friend, whatever. You can just be…you.

This doesn’t just mean living your life in the online environment either. In today’s world you can do almost anything online. I scheduled weekly lawn maintenance appointments and pay for them completely through the internet. A couple weekends ago I called a ride via a phone app called Uber, I sent $200 to my friend in like 5 minutes flat via Paypal, and took selfies without pressing any buttons using Selfie Cam (okay, that last one has nothing to do with being online but I pretty much just loved it). My friend checked us in at a million different places using Yelp, and I used Facebook. I wrote and posted blogs from my cell phone! People are meeting, falling in love, and getting married over the internet. It feels like the world has gotten vastly smaller because someone that is thousands of geographical miles away from you is available at the click of a mouse and the start-up of an instant chat application.

By the time The Kid has kids, I’m imagining that we’ll have all the things they have on those space-age shows like Star Trek. Like holograms and phone walls where you see the person you’re talking to in life-size or bigger, all in the comfort of your own home. It will be glorious.

I’ll probably be too old and toothless to enjoy it, but it sure will be cool.