Word for Wednesday – Ephemeral


Word For WednesdayEphemeral

/ɪˈfɛmərəl/

adjective

  1. lasting for only a short time; transitory; short-lived: ephemeral pleasure

On the great, cosmic scale, we are all ephemeral creatures. What really got me thinking though, was the online communities we now, increasingly, belong to.

Online relationships are still relationships. They are still real. People who get along with each other and enjoy each other’s “company” can still do so in a purely online context. I have a number of very good friendships that are 100% online as well as a few that while mostly online, also have an element of physical presence involved.

These friendships are, to me at least, “real” friendships, in that the feelings that I experience from these relationships is the same as those I experience when I am with “real life” friends.

Lines are, of course, forever moving and blurring. The separation between online and “real” lives is much less distinct. Increasingly, the online, far from being a distinct “other life” is being more deeply integrated into our “real” lives.

But while these electronic/cyber relationships/friendships are just as real as their physical counterparts, there is an inherent fragility about them.

At one end of the scale, people can delete their online/social accounts. or they can change their email address/mobile phone number. People can be hacked, have their identities cloned. At the extreme end, people may turn out not to be the person you think they are, or even the person they say they are. Then, particularly prevalent in the online sex-positive/kink-positive community, people can have their accounts suspended/terminated without any notice at all.

There is always the risk that someone we have chatted to, joked with, flirted with for weeks/months/years may just vanish without choosing, or being able to say goodbye.

No matter how “close” we are to someone online, we may never truly know what is going on in their life. The same is true about relationships in the physical world, but the very nature of the internet, and the way it can connect people who might never meet face-to-face, does seem, potentially at least, to make these friendships/relationships, the most ephemeral one we will ever be a part of.

ZeN

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5 thoughts on “Word for Wednesday – Ephemeral

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  1. Some deep thoughts here ZeN. I’m still somewhat disturbed by the disappearance of Michael Samadhi around Christmas time last year. Michael and I had exchanged a number of thoughts on life, politics and art, and I learned quite a bit about the way he thought at a time when kink was still very foreign to me.
    We inquired about each others health in the latter half of 2017 as we took it in turns to deal with bronchitis. But ultimately my health appears to be more robust (Michael had other health issues too), and the last I heard was that he had the flu. Then nothing. He had just started a new blog – it has not been added to since. I can only assume that he has passed away. I hate not knowing. It was my first instance of the ephemeral nature of online friendships and it still bothers me.
    There is a core group of bloggers I regularly exchange ideas with including yourself, and I honestly believe if it weren’t for you I would not have continued blogging despite my good intentions. Certainly my regular exchanges have helped me weather the nearly 12 months since Mum passed away. I’m not done with grief yet, but I’m a hell of a lot better than I would have been on my own.
    You folk are generally the first people whose thoughts and creative ideas I encounter in the morning and the last at night. I hope to meet some of this group when I visit the UK in September, although I’m rather sad that I will probably never meet some of my American friends.
    I’ve heard it said that social media friends are not “real” friends however I have encountered unprecedented sharing, honesty and courage in the posts on other peoples blogs. In turn my writing has encouraged me to dig into my own memories, thoughts and behaviours and share them with my fellow bloggers, even though I sometimes dislike what I am remembering or despise what I have done in past. It’s also allowed me to think about my sexuality in so many new ways in what I regard as a “safe” environment (despite some evidence to the contrary).
    Thanks for this lovely thought provoking post mate. I greatly appreciate it.
    Regards,
    Indie

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    1. No that you mention him, I realise he is conspicuous by his absence. We didn’t interact much but were, you might say, “nodding acquaintances”.

      I think it’s one of those things; in much the way that real life friendships, can dim and fade away, online ones are no different. The inherent impermanence of the medium by which we conduct these friendships does make them all the more fragile I think.

      ZeN

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  2. I found myself nodding away all the way through this Zen.
    I do miss those I’ve disconnected with after being hacked, and closing those accounts.
    I feel lucky I’ve been able to reconnect with some. I do wonder about the others, what they’re doing, did they get that job, meet that girl…
    The blurring of worlds is something that has been on my mind, I’m meeting an online friend in real life for the first time next month.
    I’m ridiculously happy about this but I haven’t been able to share this with my real life friends.
    There’s a scornful look, an intake of breath, about online communities, almost that everyone online is out to scam you, or at least muddle the truth.
    I wish I could share the joy I’m having from this cross over of worlds with them.
    Just as real and fulfilling.
    Perhaps I’ll forward this to them, food for thought.

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    1. I’ve had to reinvent a number of times, so I get that. The fact that two of my personae reside on this site simultaneously kind of illustrates the inherent impermanence of the online world. It’s always surprising when someone who followed an older iteration of me, doesn’t follow the current one, even when they know that we/I am the same person. It is, I suspect, the nature of the online world, we can dip in and out as we choose or not.

      ZeN

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