I recommend you read part 1 first.
Computers seem to be mostly about adding files, editing files, browsing files, and sometimes deleting files. On the internet we can do the same thing - we browse sites, and if we’re particularly savvy we might add and edit our own. Computers are all about managing data sets.
A sad reflection on the state of our society is that the internet is turning our relationships into data sets that we can manage.
Take myspace for example. I can go to someone’s profile and click to add them as a friend. I can then edit my friends, or even delete my friends. Relationships are formed at the click of a button and ended in the same fashion. Because we can no longer have meaningful relationships with people in real life we go out and manipulate them like they’re files on a computer.
I think the explosion in the popularity for dating sites is another prime example of how the quality of our relationships are declining. I think it trivializes the whole process of courtship. How pathetic are the stories going to be in the future, when children are told by their parents how they met after a computer decided they were right for each other, or that their first meeting was on AIM. I think the common cliche should be rephrased to now say “It was love at first site”.
In the end I don’t think the internet is the cause of this sordid state of affairs. Things like speed dating and the whole clubbing scene are also indications of a general decline. I think relationships are failing in general.
I feel this online social revolution is driven by a growing number of people who have a genuine desire to have fulfilling relationships who are failing to find them offline. Instead they clamor online, join services, or go to places that offer opportunities and try and fill the void there. To some extend the internet does this very well - it is a very effective medium for communication. But it is a medium with inherent flaws, which leaves people with empty shells and blank silhouettes.
Relationships over the internet are like watching a sporting event on TV - its convenient, you get an awesome view, and can record it to watch later. But it pales in significance when compared to being at the game, amongst the roaring crowd.
// end rant