October 18, 2010 - 4:39 pm

On any day coming to the office, opening up my mailboxes at home, or scanning through my mail at the airport queue I come across an old friend who suddenly wants to link up with me, a vague acquaintance who wishes to see me at an exhibition, or an urgent petition that I need to sign.

The prospect of friends suddenly springing up from old times used to thrill me. I was delighted to sign petitions that would guarantee my democratic rights, and basked in the idea of going to an art exhibition. As always with novelties they are delightful only if they are rare enough to continue to be pleasant.

However, today the acceptance level of intrusion has been surpassed, and I only get moderately amused when acquaintances who hardly recognize me at a conference, insist on becoming my “friends” on Facebook.

So, now more than ever we must rethink our personal communications policies towards our parents, friends, and colleagues. Maybe I want to send photos of the latest birthday to parents, but not necessarily start a discussion that would be best fit for Sunday afternoon tea-time. I want to share lots of fun –or even silliness – with friends on Facebook, but that does not replace face-to-face encounters. I may not want all of my colleagues as my friends on Facebook (depending on the above-mentioned level of silliness displayed), but I expect at least an acknowledgment from them on all Emails sent with a professional query.

The Internet is splitting our personalities and recomposing them in accordance with the community networks that we adhere to. Now more than ever we need to keep control of our lives, information, and ideas.

The Internet should be an opportunity for us to make better and faster judgments. It’s so easy to tell that a deal is bad if the photos of the item that you would be buying are taken at a distance. The same principle applies to people, their ideas, and their so-called friendships.

So, let’s remember that the Internet is only a piece of our society and that when the time comes we need to get out of it. A petition will never replace a street demonstration, and a Skype call will never replace a private encounter.

The Internet should be the conduit to improve and diversify our physical, real, and concrete world.