Roger Ebert pens a beautiful, heartfelt missive to all the lonely people on the internet, or really in the world. Because as he notes, “I knew the conventional wisdom: The internet has isolated us in virtual worlds. But I realized that these writers might have been just as lonely if the web had never been invented. It wasn’t the cause, it was only the occasion. This isn’t about the internet. It’s about loneliness.” No one can know why we might feel so lonely. But born it seems out of a empathetic desire to communicate with his too many commenters and correspondents, Ebert asks us to remember that no matter what, we’re never as alone as it might seem. Read them here & here.
Most of the comments are useful and literate, and many are elegantly written. “The best comments you are likely to find anywhere on the web,” I’ve heard it said.
But why are you writing them? Don’t you have anything else to do? Every day there are untold millions of comments, texts, and online interactions. Millions. And each one says, I am here and I extend my consciousness to there. There might have been a time when humans were content to sit and simply be, like the goat I saw yesterday sitting contently in a patch of sunshine at the Lincoln Park Zoo. That time was long ago. We want the news. We want to chatter and gossip. We want to say “I am alive” in a billion billion different ways. And now here is internet, providing such an easy, easy way to do that.
When I was a child the mailman came once a day. Now the mail arrives every moment. I used to believe it was preposterous that people could fall in love online. Now I see that all relationships are virtual, even those that take place in person. Whether we use our bodies or a keyboard, it all comes down to two minds crying out from their solitude.