How the Internets Shape My Day-to-Day Life (as a Feminist)

16 09 2009

One thing that was really interesting for me about the Women + Power Conference was all the discussion about blogging and other Internet technology and how it shapes our activism, our news-reading habits, etc.  From the stage, there were some really interesting stories about, for example, how a woman in rural Africa was able to connect to other women in a way she never would have been able to pre-Internet through the site Pulse Wire.  In our intergenerational lunch conversation, we talked more about how the Internet affects us generally, in terms of relating and developing friendships, both positive and negative.

When I got home, I started thinking about just how I do use the Internet both for information gathering and for community building.  Of course, I’m very conscious of things that the Internet helps me with in terms of getting information about the weather, restaurant menus, contact info, all that stuff that I find myself without when I’m away from the computer.  But what I don’t pay as much attention to is the social element.  I also wonder how my Internet use differs from others my generation and a little bit older, or a little bit younger.  So I’ll describe a typical day of Internet usage for me, and I’d be interested to hear how this differs from your experience in the comments.  Also, coincidentally I came across a blog post today that discusses relationships and Facebook.  Though Facebook isn’t a big social medium for me, I thought you might be interested to check out what this blogger has to say.

A Day in the Online Life of Me

Keep in mind, of course, that I’m not working right now, so I can spend a lot more time online.

Right after waking up:  Read through Twitter Feed and Tweet once.  Check e-mail.  Read my Google Reader (a few traditional newspapers, feminist websites and blogs, queer blogs, sexuality blogs, law and other academic blogs, foodblogs, Daily Beast, friends’ blogs, NPR, the New Yorker).

During the day: Watch a few TV shows online (Rachel Maddow Show, Daily Show, Colbert Report).  Post to one or two of my blogs.  Spend a good 4-6 hours intermittently chatting with friends online.  I met many of my closest friends online initially, and some I have never met in person, which was a particular surprise to the older women at the intergenerational lunch.

Night: Settle into a chat room with a group of my friends.  Chat till around 11 pm – 1 am until my eyes absolutely won’t stay open.  Rinse and repeat.

Some observations: One thing I don’t use a lot is Facebook, though it’s a great tool for invitations and organizing contact information.  I don’t read Twitter more than once a day, which means that I miss a lot.  I was surprised to hear presenters this weekend talk about meeting people on Twitter.  Meet?  But it’s 140 characters!  I met most of my friends through blog and online journal comments, communities specific to a particular interest, or OKCupid, an online dating site that I use to meet other queer friends and sometimes make dates.  After making a connection, our primary contact is through IM.  I also don’t use Skype or videochat, so my contacts are almost all textual.  Sometimes when I do meet someone in person I’m surprised by how their personality is different, how they look, how they interact.  I don’t know if it’s good or bad – just different.

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