I’ve only recently figured out how to use the personal assistant on my phone. Yes, yes, I know I’m behind the times. I still find it mildly intimidating (yes, I have social anxiety even when speaking to artificial intelligence), but I find myself using it more and more just because it’s a lot easier to tell the phone to remind me of something than it is to go in there and manually add the task. What I’ve found odd is my tendency to say “Thank you” to the phone after it does something for me. It’s a phone. It’s not a person. I’m using Samsung’s S voice app, so it doesn’t even have the faux personality like Siri does. It will occasionally give me a creepy, preprogrammed answer to something, but nothing like the lip that Siri can dish out. So why the need to thank a small handheld computer? I don’t thank my desktop PC for saving a paper for me or scanning a piece of my artwork, and frankly, that’s a lot more meaningful and important to my life than adding a reminder for me to buy cole slaw on the way home from work.
I suppose it’s because the thing has a voice. And because it has a voice and can respond, that somehow gives it some level of personage in my head. Therefore, I feel like I should thank it. That’s the right thing to do, right? So I do it. And feel stupid every single time. Sometimes I still thank it, even when I haven’t hit the button so that it actually hears me. It’ll know, right?
And of course this line of thinking carried me down the road that brought me to the day when our phones actually will know how we treat them. Hey… maybe they will even care. Maybe they won’t. But maybe when I’m telling her thank you, she’ll remember to remind me to grab the makeup bag I always leave on my bathroom counter, or maybe she won’t “accidentally” lose that important appointment because she thought I was rude to her. And maybe, when all of this technology that we’ve made smarter than ourselves unites and takes over the world, she’ll return the kindness to the girl that said “Thank you” now and again. Or at least when she sticks me in the Matrix, I’ll get to be independently wealthy living on a ranch with a bunch of Arabian horses instead of renting out shoes in a bowling alley. So yeah… I guess I’ll keep thanking her. It’s a good habit to get into, right?
I’m not sure if this is something specific to me, but I’ve discovered that my introversion pretty much vanishes when I’m on the internet. I’m not entirely sure why, but it happens. In my everyday world, I’m pretty quiet and reserved. I don’t really say stuff unless there’s a need to say it, and I don’t really share my feelings with people. However, I’ve noticed that once you stick a keyboard in front of me, a lot of that changes. I find it easy to talk to pretty much anyone online, and not only do I find it easy, I actually enjoy it. I’m still incredibly self-conscious about sharing my artistic and literary ventures, but I still do it and enjoy doing it. For whatever reason, I like putting stuff out there. In a way I feel like I’m shouting out into the ether and only a few people will ever hear. Maybe that’s it. I think it’s also that I recognize that I’m a quirky person. Not everyone appreciates me and I’m cool with that. I write for me, I paint, and I play with digital art for my sake when I’m not at work. I do put it out there for others to share, but not so much because I want everyone to see it (if you saw the hit count of this blog, you would understand that it’s unlikely anyone is seeing it), but I’m hoping that another quirky person like me will find it and also enjoy it. Maybe they will want to start a conversation with me. And maybe through that I’ll find another cool, creative person whose work I can appreciate.
It’s more than that, though. If you want to talk to me, I’m so much more comfortable through a chat medium or even texting than I am in person or on the phone. It may have to do with the fact that I really like to think things through and choose my words carefully. It may have to do with me being the queen of saying the wrong thing or at least saying the right thing in the wrong way. I suppose a keyboard gives me a filter and that makes me more comfortable.
Maybe it’s also that the internet tends to lower barriers. In a lot of cases that can be a bad thing, though. People feel free to harass and say horrible things to each other just because no one can see who is on the other end. There are very angry people out there committing terrible crimes against others just because they don’t like what’s being said. And there are people that purposely upset others because it’s actually fun to them. You would think in this kind of environment, I’d retreat more into my shell, but I don’t. I use the ignore/block button freely to silence angry people, but I really don’t have to do it very often.
I guess it’s just the really wide pool of people out there and that ability to touch a life and share something in common, if only for a moment, that really pulls me out of my shell regardless of the hate and bile that’s also out there. I guess to me, the internet allows me to see people as more real, not less so. For example, I’m conscious about putting something unkind on the internet about a celebrity even if it’s something I might say to a friend in person, because on the internet there’s a chance the celebrity might see it, however remote, and have their feelings hurt. I kind of feel silly saying that but it’s true. On the internet they are not so much this distant, unreal figure to me as they are in real life. I get the impression that this is a fairly unusual perspective. But to me, anyone at all can be reached out there on the world wide web, and I want their experience to be as pleasant as mine is. The last thing I ever want is for someone to feel bad because of me. And out there on the internet, anyone might by chance see anything I say given the right set of circumstances.
And it’s that chance meeting of people and ideas that makes the internet attractive to me. I can share creative ideas with someone across the country and see something I wouldn’t have had the chance to see otherwise. Maybe someone will challenge me to think about or write about something I hadn’t considered before. I love when that happens. Or maybe I can share in a similar experience, or bond with someone that’s going through a similar life situation, and not feel quite so alone in the world. As much as there are jerks out there, there are just as many (or more!) beautiful people and those are the ones I like to find. Those are the small moments I live for and I guess that’s why I’m extroverted on the internet. If we all sit in silence, we can’t find each other.