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"You're a palsycorn, a unicorn is too general."


April 6th, 2014

Newsflash: Internet communication isn't impersonal @ 09:07 pm

Current Mood: stressed stressed
Listening To: RENT - Tango Maureen

Every time I see some self-righteous asshole proclaim (ironically, ON THE INTERNET) that internet communication is the most impersonal form of communication and that phone calls/in person hangouts are a dying art, I want to scream.

I am a multiply disabled person.  Phone calls require a type of mental, physical, and emotional gymnastics for me, which I seldom, if ever, have the spoons for.  I have severe phone anxiety which I smash down and stuff deep inside me when I absolutely have to make a phone call.  The anxiety is managed somewhat with the help of scripts (particularly helpful if I have to call to make an appointment or something, I write down exactly what I'm going to say, and approximate what the other person is going to say), and has gotten slightly better since the advent of cell phones (that way, I know that no one other than the person I want to talk to will pick up).  But it is still VERY there.  On top of this, I have to smash a phone against my ear and fight not to drop it, something which I do with alarming frequency, because my hands do spazzy things.   This phone, which is usually supremely uncomfortable, because no one considers how it's going to feel when it's held against an ear when they make a cell phone, will have to be nearly glued to my ear for however long the call takes, requiring my arm to be held in an awkward position for that long, which, like most things I do with my body these days, will result in pain.  Finally, phone calls require communicating verbally, and like many people with CP, I find it exhausting to coordinate the muscles needed for speech and still make my words clear enough to be understood.  Put that all together and you start to see why I feel like I've ran a marathon after a long phone call.

There are approximately three people in this world that I will voluntarily expend that kind of energy for, maybe less.  They know who they are, and all of them are people I'd consider my best friends.  Another close friend of mine has learning disabilities that make reading and writing difficult - so I spend time on the phone with her, because it's more accessible for her.  And sometimes, she'll text me if she's called me and there's no answer, because she knows that's the more accessible option for me.  We make concessions for each other's accessibility needs.

And in person communication?  Hah, don't make me laugh.  I'm a physically disabled woman who doesn't drive and has limited access to public transportation.  I don't work, and my only income comes from people who are willing to pay me for my writing.  I'm lucky that my parents are willing to give me as much money as they do so I can go out with friends.  For me to go out with friends requires aligning all the stars in the universe perfectly and an individual sacrifice to each god, real or imagined.  (That was sarcasm, by the way.)  In fact, just yesterday, plans were thwarted and $20 wasted, all because of subway accessibility issues.

Internet communication isn't impersonal.  That's a myth.  Many of my best friends started out as internet friends before moving into "real life".  Still more friends are people I've never met in person, but I'd still trust them far more than some of the people I know "for real".  And on the flip side, I've had my heart broken on the Internet.  I've also had my heart broken over the phone, and in person.  (Not just romantically, but in terms of friendship as well.)  None of these experiences hurt any less than the others.  Internet communication isn't inherently bad just because it's text based.  At the same time, in person communication and phone communication aren't bad either.  They're just not accessible to me.

I'm extremely lucky to have the Internet.  There are many people out there just like me who didn't grow up in the age of the Internet, or aren't computer or language literate enough to access the Internet or don't have the financial resources to have Internet.  I'm lucky to have this as a valid method of communication.  Please don't demonize my way of communicating - I shouldn't have to defend it.
 
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From:nightengalesknd
Date:April 7th, 2014 02:18 am (UTC)
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Pretty much. I have telephonophobia also, and it's the worst when I don't know who is going to answer, and the person answering might be someone else I also know. C.F. all the calls I have to make for work.

In addition to all your points, I think they set up a false dichotomy.

It's not between "socializing via the internet" vs "socializing in person" a lot of the time. Rather, it's between "socializing via the internet" and "not socializing at all."

Which of those is more impersonal, again?
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From:brightlotusmoon
Date:April 7th, 2014 02:42 am (UTC)
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I need to share this with a girl friend who totally totally gets it. (she's severely bipolar so she gets disability too).
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From:naamah_darling
Date:April 7th, 2014 03:12 am (UTC)
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Yo, that would be me.

*waves* Amanda Gannon on FB.
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From:brightlotusmoon
Date:April 7th, 2014 03:27 am (UTC)
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Yay, you're here! *facelicks, facebite love*

Cara, this is my darling dearest Amanda, and she is most fabulous and beautiful, and I highly recommend her journal.
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From:naamah_darling
Date:April 7th, 2014 03:59 am (UTC)
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This a thousand times. So much this. THIS.

I have phone issues, too, though not to the extent you do. Still, when I'm done with a call, I will wander around for a while, flapping my hands and blurting out random sentences and words for a while. Up to half an hour if it was a stressful call, or if I have any reason to think I said something stupid. Having hearing loss absolutely does not help.

I prefer internet communication. Written communication. I can think about my words, revise them (try doing that with face-to-face communication), send them for the other person to read whenever they wish. When they reply, I can read their words when I feel like it. I can put off conversations until I have the spoons to deal with them.

All of these things, these reasons that folks like us prefer written communication, are things that a lot of able-bodied or neurotypical people take for granted. The detachment from the personal face-to-face or audio communication is a feature for a lot of folks, not a bug. It's not impersonal, it's just delayed in a way that makes it easier to handle.

Btw, hello, pleased to meet you, mind if I friend you?

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From:palsycorn
Date:April 7th, 2014 05:10 pm (UTC)
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Friend away! :D
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From:elialshadowpine
Date:April 10th, 2014 01:25 pm (UTC)
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Also here by way of brightlotusmoon. This is a topic near and dear to my heart. I have similar difficulties with phones; my girlfriend makes almost all calls for appts and pharmacies etc. I can count on a hand the number of people I will willingly spend time on the phone with (weirdly, voice chat using a service like Skype or Mumble doesn't freak me out as much, but I think that is in part because it's hands-free; even still, I have to be not-anxious and where my ears can handle the headset for a long period of time). I can drive but pain disorders and anxiety make meeting in person difficult. Add to that with enough anxiety, it triggers seizures... yeah, so not fun.

I have met all but one of my partners/exes (ironically, the most abusive one) online. 4 at a writing community, 2 on WoW, 2 on LiveJournal. All but one, and she should move out my way this summer, have been in-person at some points, even if it's been flying or driving to meet the other. That's not counting the numerous friends and massive support group I have online.

If I didn't have the Internet, I flat-out wouldn't have this. I wouldn't be married to an amazing person, I wouldn't have awesome girlfriends who make my life so much better, I'd be completely isolated with no social life whatsoever. Add to this I wasn't allowed to make friends in person as a child (long story), and ... yeah. The Internet has been a godssend. It infuriates me when people say that those relationships aren't "real", because goddamn it, stop talking out your ass, jerks. I notice these people also are often hypocritical and have friends themselves from online, but maybe that's just the people I have seen saying these things.

The Space Between

"You're a palsycorn, a unicorn is too general."