Saturday, February 13, 2010

We are living in a "Virtual World", but I am not so sure I am a "Virtual" girl.

Well hello again my dear friend blog. I have been ignoring you for a while now. Nice to see you again.

I have been thinking about the world we live in these days. The world where virtual and digital IS our reality. Maybe it is because I am a child of the 80's where "virtual" meant things like, " I am virtually 5'10" (because I could tease my hair to an extra 3 inch height).

Photo courtesy of

These days virtual means something entirely different. The Internet and other modern technologies have made it so that we could literally survive without actually interacting with another human being, but I often wonder if that is a good thing. Anyone remember Sandra Bullock in the movie The Net?

Don't get me wrong I am as addicted to my computer and my smart phone as much as the next person but I also like "keeping it real".

Here is how some of todays modern technologies break down for me. Some I like and some not so much, but I would love to hear your thoughts too.

Friends: I LOVE having virtual friends. With blogs, facebook, yahoo groups, and online communities I call many people I have never met in person my "Friends". I communicate with them digitally through IM, email, facebook, tweets and other means of virtual communication. We share our lives, loves, hopes and dreams as well as our problems and addictions. Some of these friends know me better than my so called "real" friends. But as much as I love my virtual friends there is nothing like laughing with good friends right there by your side. Somehow LOL or even ROFL just isn't the same.

Customer Service: Because of what I do for a living this one is a biggie for me. If I am having a problem and seek out customer service I want to speak to a human, preferably one that speaks English clearly. I HATE automated phone systems where no matter how many times you say "talk to an agent" or press 0 you get sent into another loop asking you to push a button or speak your choices. I also HATE being sent overseas to talk to someone named "Bob" with very broken English. Chat support is not much better. Recently I was trying chat support and was virtually hung up on before I even had time to type my next question. Seriously, is that what they call customer service?

Texting: This one is a mixed bag for me. I text but not as much as many people I know. I guess part of it is that I am not under 25, but I can never see my self sending upwards of 500 texts per day. I admit it is convenient for quick correspondence but again I wonder what texting is doing for our ability to really communicate. I would almost always rather hear your voice, but that's just me.

Is it really necessary to text someone who is sitting in the same room? Ok, maybe there are situations, like when you want to mention how cute the guy at the next table is without embarrassing anyone but most of the time wouldn't be easier to just talk?

Texting has also become another dangerous distraction to driving.

Do you text and drive? If you do ...STOP before someone gets hurt! Oprah is championing a campaign to make your car a NO PHONE ZONE, I signed the pledge. Will you???

Digital Photos: I love digital photography. I love the instant gratification of seeing your pictures instantly on the screen and not having to wait until they are developed only to realize that you missed that perfect shot. I love being able to keep 100s of photos on a card the size of a postage stamp. What I don't love about digital photography is that we seem to do less with our digital photos. Some people never even print them. I know that there are digital photo frames and we can create slideshows on the computer but there is something special about having a photo in your hand. I like holding a little piece of captured history. The thing I worry most about, probably because I am a scrapbooker, is how these digital images will be passed to future generations. When my grandmother passed away at nearly 103 years of age I was given a box of old photos she had kept throughout her life. Those photos are some of my most cherished possessions. In this digital world will we remember to pass on our treasured memories...I hope so.

Digital Scrapbooking: I am not really sold on this either. I have been a scrapbooker for a long time and at this point I am probably in need of a twelve step program for my addictions. Maybe this has made me a snob when it comes to digital scrapbooking. Or maybe it is that I spend at least 40 hours a week on a computer so I don't want my creative time to be spent there as well. Digital may be faster, it may be easier, and in some cases it may even be cheaper but for me it's just not the same. I love getting my hands dirty with ink and adhesive. I love cutting out shapes and poking holes for tiny brads. I love adding a bit of bling or ribbon or some other three dimensional embellishment.

Close to My Heart is coming out with our own digital scrapbooking software in the near future. I have been trying it out before it's final release and I have to admit that it is pretty cool but for me it will not likely ever replace the REAL thing.

eReading: There has been a lot of hype recently with the impending release of Apple's iPad and the popularity of Amazon's Kindle.

Advertisements for these devices highlight the lightweight slim design, the instant downloads of thousands of titles and the on the go ease of use. Sorry, but I am not buying it. I LOVE books! I love the smell of a bookstore, I love reading until I wake myself up because I dropped the book on my face. I love the stacks of books next to my bed. I even love the paper cuts gotten by my excitement in turning a page to find out what happens next.

When asked to describe my idea of a perfect day it will almost always include a quiet place (usually a beach) and a good book.

Somehow " a quiet place (usually a beach) and a good Kindle" just doesn't cut it. Besides, books don't need batteries and I can tell you from experience that electronic devices and sand are NOT a good mix...RIP dear Kodak camera who died an untimely death on a sand dune along the Oregon coast.

Online Shopping: Online shopping Rocks! I love being able to get what I want with just a few clicks. I can order pizza, clothes, craft supplies, books and movies, or just about anything else I can think of from the comfort of my own couch and I don't even need to be dressed. Ok, get your minds out of the gutter I am not a naked shopper (that's just creepy), but I have done lots of click shopping in my PJs. If only I could figure out how to click and fill the gas tank on my car I would be all set.

I will admit though that I am a girl, and sometimes an actual shopping trip where my senses are involved is a wonderful thing. It is nice to see the true colors of things, to feel the textures and actually try clothes on, but only once in a while.

While I am on the subject of online shopping I have to mention eBay, Craigslist, Etsy etc. I LOVE these sites. They bring online shopping to a whole new level.

"Reality" TV- calling "Reality" TV reality is a joke, they are not fooling anyone. But as long as you realize that reality TV is edited for drama and they only show you what they want you to see then I think it can be entertaining. There is so much out there these days in the Reality catagory that I am sure everyone can find something they enjoy. Some of my favorites are

The Amazing Race
Project Runway
Extreme Makeover Home Edition
Ace of Cakes

I can do without

Jersey Shore
Any of the Real Housewives
The Real World
The Hills

I guess with all of this ranting what I am trying to say is that I am not completely sold on everything virtual. I need to interact, to touch, to feel, to hear, to make use of ALL my senses. I want to know that things are really REAL and not just virtually real.

I do love the modern conveniences but sometimes going retro can be a good thing too.