Killer Smile

The Wonderful World of the World Wide Web

How did you enjoy that amazing alliteration?

Anyway, recently I have been thinking, particularly about emotions IRL versus emotions OL (In Real Life vs. Online).  Ever since cyber bullying there’s been a discussion (scientifically, socially, it’s everywhere!) about how it’s easier to display harsh emotions online than it is to say them to someone’s face.  Some people–probably a lot of people–feel that the anonymity of the internet is a useful mask for a coward who wants to scare the crap out of some kid.  And yeah, that’s undoubtedly true.  Speaking from the point of view of a complete internet addict, I know that it’s a lot easier to lie about your feelings online than it is in real life.  And besides that truth, it’s also really empowering to take on a new personality and convince someone that it belongs to you, it’s absolutely addicting and exhilarating and just about an amazing feeling of complete control.

And while I am willing to admit that it’s hard to determine what to take seriously online, I would like to suggest a (perhaps) new idea.  I once read in Entertainment Weekly or Wired or some magazine that the hardest face to animate on a computer is a human face.  This is simply because us humans spend all of our lives trying to read and interpret human expression and mood–we need to, don’t we?  To survive in this society?  So what if the internet is just a new face that we need to interpret?  I feel nearly certain that in twenty or thirty years from now, our kids and/or grandkids will know when a person is joking online in an instant.  They’ll have spent all their lives trying to interpret emoticons and punctuation and acronyms.  ilu already seems to have a very different meaning from i love u and that itself has a very different meaning from I love you.  So what if this is just a new generation of faces appearing on our screens?

I get that this seems a little far-fetched, but I think it’s a serious possibility.  Even though the web has been around for a decade (or two or three or four?  I’m not really sure on that one), it’s pretty new relative to how long humans have been around, reading each other’s faces.  I think the web is just a new face, one that we’re just starting to get accostumed with.



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