Blog / 2022 / IRL > Online
June 28, 2022
These days, I’m meeting people I’ve only ever seen on my screen—people I first met at the beginning of the pandemic via video chat. Of course coming face to face with the whole human that I’ve befriended online is exciting, and of course three dimensions outshines two, but the single most thrilling part of these encounters is actually everything around the person I’m meeting.
It wasn’t until I started encountering virtual friends in real life that I understood just how much context can color a conversation.
It’s in the back-and-forth about the public art we pass in the street and in the taste of a chocolate cone bought from an ice cream truck on a hot day. It’s in the way that taking people out to sit in the middle of the Delaware River—at water level on the wing dam near my town—sparks stories about swimming snakes and the neither-here-nor-there of places where land meets water.
Encountering people in person is both more and less intense than online. The more comes from all the other senses besides visual and audio that help you learn about a person. The less stems from the way context helps the dialogues meander—things come up that might never have surfaced via video chat.
These meetings are a big part of why I’m divesting still more from corporate social media: they’re helping me to finally delete Twitter.
I quit Facebook and Instagram a few years ago, but held onto the Bird Site as a safety blanket. I haven’t been doing much promoting there, but my impressive follower count—around 8K at one point—felt useful, like it was proof of something important about me. When I really think about it though, I can’t point to one art sale, commission, or opportunity that 8K ever got me.
I’m pretty sure I held onto Twitter for so long for mainly sentimental reasons. It’s where I met Shayla Maddox, Amylee, Hazel Dooney, and many others back in the days of early social media, when the timeline was chronological.
Now though, with the fascist billionaire takeover of the platform, the space doesn’t feel the same. Combine Musk’s “do as I say and not as I do” free speechism with my new IRL discoveries and my Mastodon explorations, and this feels like right time to leave.
As with deleting the Zuckerverse, I’ll take a few months to close my account. I want to message certain people privately on the platform to help us stay in touch, and I want make note of all the fascinating artists I met there so I can sign up for their mailing lists or remember to check back in on them. But by October, I should be done.
This wine tote is a commissioned artwork—one of many that help me make my living—and it didn’t come to me through the Bird Site or any other social media platform. The person who commissioned this piece is the friend of a friend whom I’d met at an art event years prior.
I *heart* online so hard, but I have to admit that, at this point in the web’s evolution, IRL beats online every time.
There are prints and pretty things with this pair of swans here in my Redbubble shop.
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