There are some people who would suggest that the ever-present nature of technology is tearing apart the very fabric of society.  Indeed, it can be disturbing to see teens hospitalized with texting-induced carpal tunnel syndrome.  Really, though, technology is not all bad.  In fact, the internet is contributing significantly to our daily lives – perhaps even saving society!

Keeping In Touch

As a result of an ever-increasing number of people attending college, more people find themselves moving away from their ancestral homes as they market their specialized skills.  22 year old kids end up moving hundreds, or even thousands of miles away – often without a support structure in their new town.

Without technology, it would be pretty easy to lose touch with old friends.  Today, there’s really no excuse.  You can just shoot off an email to a friend, and they’ll respond when they get a chance.  Unlike phone calls, time zones don’t matter.  Keeping in touch with a friend halfway around the world via phone can be tricky because of time zones – not to mention extremely expensive.

I use Facebook to keep in touch with a lot of friends from my younger days.  I can see pictures of their kids, news about their promotions, and more – with just the click of a mouse.  Additionally, I get a chance to see sides of people that I didn’t realize existed – particularly true regarding people that I wasn’t overly close to in high school.  Sure, there are distractions like Wordscraper (which I play) and Farmville (which I don’t), but really, it’s all about the people.

Friends With Common Interests

Now, more than ever, it’s easy to meet people with common interests.  I have a wide variety of interests that include (but are not limited to) sports, writing, and forensics.  It can often be difficult to find others who share these interests at the same levels.  This is particulalry true with baseball, which I follow with a fanatical passion.

When I find people who share these interests with the same intensity, I make an effort to stay in contact with them.  Increasingly, many of these people are friends whom I know only from the internet.  I have never met them in “real life”, nor have I talked them on the phone.  They are nothing but a string of emails to me.

Expose Yourself

I abdondoned my fiction writing for about a decade, largely because there really wasn’t a good way to get feedback.  I’d write some stories, but then what?  Show them to a handful of close friends?

With the explosion in the popularity of blogs, it’s incredibly easy to put your writing (or artwork) on display for the world to see.  With six billion people in the world, there is a decent chance that someone will enjoy your work.  It’s incredibly easy to get started.  For the quick and easy setup, go the Blogger or WordPress.com and you’ll have a blog within minutes – at no cost to you.

Want a bit more control over your site (with a bit more cost)?  Go to a web host like Dreamhost, register a domain, pick a hosting plan, and you’re good to go.

Never has it been easier to reach an audience.  The great thing about the internet is that readers place imortance on the message itself, with few pre-conceived notions about the author.  I could care less if you are the son of doctors or ditch-diggers – if you write an interesting anlytical piece about baseball, I’ll read it.

Collaborate

The Soap Boxers has 16 official writers.  One of these writers does not actually exist in real life, but is just a fig newton of my imagination.  Another of them is me.  Of the 14 others, I have met four of them in person.  I have long friendships with Crunchy and Phil – friendships that orginated in “real life”.  I knew Squeaky from work.  I became acquainted with Bob over the computer – and, although I consider him a good friend, I’ve only met him a handful of times (always at the same pizza joint in the town that houses my company’s corporate headquarters).  I’m actually meeting Martin for lunch later today (we work a few blocks from each other).

The others?  I wouldn’t know some of them if I bumped into them on the street.  I know most of them from before the days of The Soap Boxers, but that’s not true of everyone.  Zarberg writes an article every month, but I didn’t know him until last fall.  He’s a friend of another of the writers (nope, I haven’t actually met our mutual friend, either).

In the “real world” it would be unusual for such a motley group to come together in one organization.  But in today’s world, it’s realitively easy for this group of writers to come together and create a collaborative work – albeit with wildly different components.

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Kosmo is the founder of The Soap Boxers and writes on a variety of topics. Many of his short stories have been collected into Kindle books.

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