Saturday, February 16, 2008

I'm so much cooler online

Most of us have heard of the virtual world Second Life by now. It occurred to me this that my First Life is already way too virtual. Think about it:

  • Most of my conversations are on some form of instant messenging service, and sometimes with back and forth emails.
  • I belong to a few different social networking sites and/or message boards. Most of my friends in these places I know IRL (in real life), but haven't seen in months or years.
  • When I finish my Masters, I will have never stepped foot on the campus of the school I'm attending. I have yet to even be in the same state as that school.
  • Even the guy I'm currently "seeing" lives in a different state and we rely on IM, email, phone, and webcams to "date". (Yay! I'm kinda sorta "seeing" someone!) Don't worry, I've known this person IRL for quite some time now, so it's not like I'm dating someone I only know online.
It's a little disconcerting. For someone who craves physical contact and actually being with friends, and is a hands on learner, this is a strange way of living.

For instance, in undergrad, had I done the same project I was doing this week for school, we would have talked about it in class. We might have had some sort of practice day in a computer lab. It would have definitely been more formal and structured.

Instead, to teach myself, I had to rely on an informational packet, three instructional DVDs (which I couldn't get to work), various listserv/Blackboard discussions, the website itself, and a recording of a chat help session with the professor where people typed in questions and she audio recorded the answers.

It's no wonder I was confused. For something I've been seeing information come in for about three weeks, I really shouldn't have procrastinated it until two nights ago. It is due today. I got so lost on how to do one of the problems that I called the customer service number on the website.

Other Girl: Good afternoon, how I can help you?

Me: (Afternoon? It's midnight. What?) Yeah, I'm a new user of this program, I'm a grad student, and I was wondering how to ________ .

Other Girl: (in an definite Australian accent) Well, usually, you __________ .

Me: (Oh! Australia! Of course. At least she speaks English!) Yeah, I tried that.

Other Girl: We aren't really supposed to help grad students.

Me: (CRAP! I can't even call Katie, since she's in my time zone!) Oh, well, yeah. Haha. It's midnight here, so I was just trying to call someone.

Other Girl: Heh. Yeah, well, we've been told not to.

Me: No problem. Thanks anyway!

Luckily, I finally figured it out and the whole assignment was submitted just after 1 AM. With that email, the craziness of this week is officially over and I'm finally back on top of everything.

I love school, but the unstructured way I'm doing things sometimes makes me feel like this:

(Penny Walsh poses among books thrown from their shelves during an earthquake in Gisborne, New Zealand.)


Nancy said...

I know how you feel :) that's kind of my life, too. IRL the other day, some of my friends and I were talking about something and one friend goes,

"Why don't I just do a blog post explaining this and then we won't forget the details?"

Ummm...a little too reliant, maybe.

And, man! I'm glad I didn't have to clean up after that mess!

chosha said...

Wow, the reshelvers must have cried when they walked into work that day.

Most of my life is real life. I not so much bothered by how much I do online, but moreso the sheer time it takes. A while back I realised that I always seemed to be sitting in front of the computer, and for a person who works at a computer most of the day, that isn't good. Now I deliberately don't do that. It is hard sometimes, but I'm enjoying the difference.

Lisa said...

There are days where I look at what I did and realize I did not converse with a single person face to face. I was in contact with a lot of people, but I could've gone the whole day without using my voice if I hadn't been singing along to the music on my computer.

AmandaStretch said...

Some days I wonder if I've used my voice yet. Then I remember a phone call or that I've been singing. Sometimes I haven't, and I quickly remedy the situation. I don't want to lose it from not using it. ;)