It’s been four years since social media and I hooked up. Truth be told, we would have remained strangers were it not for my foray into writing. But now that I’m here, I’ve enjoyed my time. No small talk. No eye contact. No mingling over cocktails.
It’s an introvert’s communication dream.
So lately I’ve been thinking about the connections I’ve made and the people whose updates I look forward to seeing, whether via blog, Twitter, or elsewhere. With some folks I even exchange emails or direct messages, and with each interaction I get to know them better.
But I think for many of us, it’s easier to reach that level of comfort with people whose faces we’ve seen. People who use personal photographs for their profile pictures (or on their websites) as opposed to images of animals, cartoons, or some other avatar. With a genuine face, we can imagine them happy or sad, angry or delighted, tired or full of energy. Even if it is just a two-dimensional image.
But when our only optic is a cat, or a logo, or a cartoon image, that visualization is lost, and our connection becomes more nebulous. At least initially. Perhaps over time, the greater the interaction, the less of an issue it becomes.
But I still find myself asking if people are who they say they are. Are you really a woman? A man? An alien? Do you have brown hair or pink? Are you young or more seasoned? Do you wear glasses? Do laugh lines light up your face, or do you introvert scowl like me?
Of course, some people want to remain anonymous online. That’s cool. But when I finally spot a glimpse of them somewhere along the way, it’s always a special treat. I say, “Ah, so that’s who you are!”
Let’s face it. Humans are attracted to human faces. I don’t mean in a pretty or handsome sense; I mean in a natural human curiosity sense. Whether in person or online, we like to know who we’re talking to. As cute as a person’s cat may be, or as cool as a logo may look, that lack of “face-to-face” recognition is a bit of a black hole. As a result, it might take longer to reach an emotional connection.
Luckily, we can still get there. I have some great online friends whose faces I’ve never seen.
But I gotta admit, I’m always wondering who’s hiding behind the curtain…
Do you find it easier to connect online when you know what your contact looks like?
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