November 27, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 50  

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'E-Communists' stalk in their spare time?

By Brian Wong
Gazette Staff

I am a stalker/voyeur/exhibitionist. Wait, hear me out... er, read me out — at least that’s what many of my friends have been doing more and more in the past few years, and in return I’ve been reading them out too.

If we are revolutionaries, we are the E-communists, fighting for online tools as a legitimate form of communication. Sure, we own phones, and sure, we have feet — and sometimes we even use them — but we think our Hotmail, MSN Messenger and LiveJournals are just as valuable as snail mail or ancient devices like the basic cell phone.

Traditionalists might say that our generation’s increasing use of electronic mail, instant messaging programs and the blog (that’s a “weblog” for you techno-lingo unsavvy) shifts us away from more personal and intimate means of communication. They might say we disconnect ourselves from the “real” world when we connect to the virtual world, that we sacrifice the bond of “authentic” relationships for the isolation and convenience of typing it all for others to read.

But, hey, I thought reading was good for me. And I’ve been doing a lot more reading since these text-based technologies have become a part of my everyday life. I eat. I sleep. I message. I blog.

Yes, it’s always a pleasure to hear the sound of your friends’ voices, absorb their idiosyncratic speech patterns and facial expressions. And online communication can spark more situations in which you meet your loved ones face to face. But then there are the people who you’d rather not see or hear and come within touching distance of, for whatever reasons. Not only has text-based communication allowed us to avoid unwanted noise pollution, but it has also cut down on eye pollution as well — because 10-point Helvetica is a lot prettier than most people.

Moreover, e-mail, messaging and online journals have become additional options to get a point across or show yourself off — it’s really about how you use them that really matters.

In an era of chatrooms and online communities, we’ve been able to connect with individuals we would have never otherwise met. We’ve been able to offer information about ourselves we wouldn’t feel comfortable discussing in person. We’ve been able to make ourselves stars through our blogs, freeing the idea of celebrity for everyone and giving ourselves a public “voice” accessible by millions.

But most fun of all, we have been able to access said blogs of others to keep tabs on the lives of people we know and don’t know, getting to know the blogger’s deepest, darkest thoughts, or just to engage in some anonymous, recreational stalking.



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