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Welcome to The Age of the Web Hermit 264

tyroneking writes "Phil Hartup on has captured the Zeitgeist of the web-aware generation: The Age of the Web Hermit describes how some lucky souls can live their lives, earn money, buy necessities and even find love on the Internet. 'Is there anything that we really need good old fashioned Real Life for any more?'; not me!"
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Welcome to The Age of the Web Hermit

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  • Speaking as an abstainer in a country where socializing equates to "getting very, very drunk", I can safely say that reading Slashdot trumps socializing every single time.
  • My rights online? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by el americano ( 799629 ) on Monday July 17, 2006 @04:12PM (#15733310) Homepage
    Apparently I have the right to be a web hermit. Otherwise this wouldn't be YRO, right?
  • by jizziknight ( 976750 ) on Monday July 17, 2006 @04:12PM (#15733311)
    Well, you can still have "sex" on the internet, but in the end, you're still servicing yourself.

    Really, the only thing you can't get from the internet is any sort of real, live, physical human contact (ignoring the fact that you can probably order a hooker online, but they still have to come to your home or wherever to provide any "service").
  • Re:Shut-ins (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DarkDragonVKQ ( 881472 ) * on Monday July 17, 2006 @04:16PM (#15733342)
    True, humans as a species require social interaction. I cannot deny that with all the classes and information I've studied in both psychology and sociology. Though isn't is possible to somewhat replace physical interaction with someone with interaction online? We are interacting right now? Granted its hard for me to read your body language, facial expression, etc. I feel that as we continue to progress in technology, as video/audio chat gets better and better. Then the next jump to whatever (VR?) that what constitues human interaction may need to reworked.
  • Re:Semi-hermit (Score:2, Interesting)

    by SgtPepperKSU ( 905229 ) on Monday July 17, 2006 @04:29PM (#15733435)
    I'm having a hard time deciding whether to laugh at or cry for your post.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 17, 2006 @04:37PM (#15733496)
    I've actually had absinthe delivered from Germany. Something I couldn't buy even if I ventured from my house.
  • Re:Shut-ins (Score:5, Interesting)

    by truthsearch ( 249536 ) on Monday July 17, 2006 @04:38PM (#15733510) Homepage Journal
    For those who would be shut-ins anyway this bundle of tubes provides a way to socialize. People need to interact, but they're always finding new ways to do it online: /. threads, forums, blogs and blog comments, chat rooms, Second Life, etc. There's a problem when a person who would otherwise be out socializing becomes a shut-in. But for those who are more comfortable as shut-ins there are new ways to socialize.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 17, 2006 @04:50PM (#15733589)
    I'm of the belief that there are a lot of people out there that give good potential to be great friends. Say 1-10% of the population (that's great friends, not people you put up with or are acquaintences with). Even if .1% or similar, that's a HUGE number of people when you are talking at least millions of people out there one might run into (potentially billions if you travel a lot but many don't given how we live).

    But at 1-5% or less, it becomes a resource management issue. Such a low percentage means you have to interact with 99% of assholes and other folks before you find that 1%. And the interaction can be of varying lengths before that discovery is made; I've had impressive initial interactions with people that have then turned out to be very nasty, fake, silly individuals at heart, and very poor initial interactions with people who have turned out to be amongst my best friends.

    And it's all a lot of work and energy. Meeting 100 people, much less 100 people in-depth, is a lot of work. Don't forget, you might have family, have to eat, work, exercise, read, learn, etc. and all that through the day, most our friends are that of coincidence with other aspects of our lives.

    So, the percentage one runs into that end up being good friends, that's the problem. You have to pour a lot of time into meeting people, weed out folks, and that's just on your end. Friendship is bi-directional--they have to consider you a friend as well and be open to having "new friends." Surprisingly, many people are set in their ways and aren't open to meeting new people--they already have their friends, have family, career, etc.

    Put another way, the number of people whose times to meet, intelligence, geographical area, and (roughly) interests overlap are quite rare. Combine that with like minds in forming a friendship, and the results are lower.

    And this is also why the internet, with meetups and matchmaking works.
  • Re:Shut-ins (Score:2, Interesting)

    by kfg ( 145172 ) * on Monday July 17, 2006 @05:02PM (#15733687)
    Thoreau is popularly, but erroneously, regarded as a hermit.

    In fact he not only traveled and socialized widely, even during his years at Walden pond, but even wrote in Walden, his journal of his experiment in minimalist living, that social interaction is one of the minimum requirements of human life.

    And he didn't mean some form correspondence by that. The Internet only provides social interaction by correspondence.

    Melville has been put forward as an example of the true writing solitary, but he had to live in a city with other people to support his solitude. In fact, ironically, he had to have a wife to pull it off.

    Thoreau could live alone in the woods as a "half and half" solitary because he was willing to go to the city and interact with people face to face in order to meet his needs. And never married.

    As others have pointed out your basic Internet hermit only exists within the framework of a vast civilized superstructure to supply his solitude. He is alone among many. A shut in, yes, but a very peculiar kind of "hermit," a word which has always implied true isolation and dependence on self.

    A while ago I was showing someone plans for a boat I had designed to sail the Atlantic alone. Their first question was not about the danger of the undertaking, but "Won't you get lonely?"

    I replied, "Why? I'm pretty good company, aren't I?"

    I can go weeks without any human contact whatsoever and not mind at all. I rather enjoy it now and again. I'm better company than most. But there comes a time. . .

    As a lifelong "solitary," frankly, I think some of you need to get out more.

  • Re:You go do that (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 17, 2006 @05:22PM (#15733842)
    Yeah, go natural selection. It always seems to make the best decisions, right? I guess that's why trailer parks are chock full of kids and Newton and Leibniz both died childless. Our species peaked a few hundred years ago, it's all downhill from there.
  • Re:Shut-ins (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ksheff ( 2406 ) on Monday July 17, 2006 @05:24PM (#15733867) Homepage
    it's still not the same as real socializing. get a bunch of people that visit message boards to actually meet each other and you will find that the shut-in types are still uncomfortable and will position themselves near the edge of the group. If anyone is talking to them, it's because the other person initiated it. Get too high of a concentration of the shut-ins and the party bombs. Been there, done that. Even if I only get to talk to 1 or 2 people, it's still much, much better than the message board. but it's better than trying to go to "normal" social spots. Being alone while in a crowd of people at a bar or concert sucks.
  • Re:Question (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Turn-X Alphonse ( 789240 ) on Monday July 17, 2006 @05:44PM (#15734016) Journal
    How is the internet any different to books and games? I'm like the guy above and before I got the internet I played my SNES on my own, before that I always played with toys on my own. That's just how some people are.

    If anyone a "digital lifestyle" will save lives because it stops people from killing themselvs when they get depressed and lonely.
  • Re:Question (Score:3, Interesting)

    by truthsearch ( 249536 ) on Monday July 17, 2006 @05:53PM (#15734081) Homepage Journal
    a "digital lifestyle" will save lives because it stops people from killing themselvs when they get depressed and lonely.

    That sounds logical but in my experience it's not true. A person who is depressed and lonely is still depressed and lonely while playing a video game. He's just temporarily entertained which keeps his mind of off it. But the underlying problem still persists.

    Online socializing, however, does seem to help at least a little. As long as there is interaction with other human beings in some form. It's simply a human need.
  • Re:Shut-ins (Score:5, Interesting)

    by misanthrope101 ( 253915 ) on Monday July 17, 2006 @05:57PM (#15734098)
    Not everyone is sociable, or wants to be. It isn't a matter of being "cool," but just one of needing solitude, or perhaps of finding it preferable to the alternative. I doubt that one can really understand people by assuming they're all alike. My point is that, to you, reclusivity may seem like prison, but to me, gregariousness seems shallow. How much inane chitchat do you really need in your life? Are you incapable of sitting quietly with your own thoughts? Many people are, it seems. But instead of realizing that they lack the inner resources of solitary people, they leap to the conclusion that everyone who isn't exactly like them is maladjusted and unhealthy. How comforting it must be to pity everyone who isn't like you. There is nothing wrong with solitude, but there is something wrong with being unable to be alone. If you couldn't fathom going a week without speaking to anyone, that just means you're shallow. Given a choice between an evening if vapid small-talk and an evening at home reading William Blake, I'll take the book. One of these actually makes me feel and think, while the other is just a penalty I have to occasionally pay so people like you won't start spreading the rumor that I'm mentally deranged so similar crap.

    Yes, there are mentally unwell people who happen to be loners. That doesn't mean they typify the class.

  • by bcrowell ( 177657 ) on Monday July 17, 2006 @05:58PM (#15734108) Homepage

    College and grad school were great for socializing in person. There were people all around me who were interested in intellectual things, and it was even pretty easy to find people who were interested in the same intellectual things I was interested in. We were at the same stage in our lives, and although it seemed like we were working our butts off in school, the truth was that we had a lot of free time, because we didn't have kids, or pets, or lawns to mow.

    The real world is a whole different deal. Nothing against my neighbors, they're nice people and I enjoy shooting the breeze with them now and then, but we just have nothing in common. Parenthood, work, and living in suburbia just aren't very conducive to making contact with people who care about books, or jazz, or free information.

    Internet relationships tend to be shallow and temporary, but if I didn't have e-mail, usenet, and (I admit) slashdot, my opportunities to have any kind of an intellectual life outside my own head would be extremely limited.

    My family and I just spent three weeks in Greece and England, and it was an amazing contrast with the kind of alienating suburban environment I live in here in the U.S. In Athens, extended families go out together for dinner in sidewalk cafes at 10 in the evening. In little farming villages in Greece, the older men hang out in coffee shops and talk. In England, people hang out and talk in pubs. The U.S. is just pathetic, especially where I live (Orange County, CA), in terms of giving people spaces where they can interact with the rest of society. Everybody just drives places in their air-conditioned SUV's. Maybe shopping malls are the closest equivalent we have, but I just don't enjoy them as places to hang out, people-watch, or run into friends.

  • actual net hermit (Score:3, Interesting)

    by peter303 ( 12292 ) on Monday July 17, 2006 @06:18PM (#15734203)
    I recall near the begining of the a guy who was going to spend a whole year in a house living off of stuff ordered from the net. He legally changed his name to DotComGuy. He was going to make living via selling advertising and webcam feeds.,1284,40940,00. html []
  • Since June 1 I've been collectinfg the signatures necessary to Get on the Ballot [] as a candidate for the United States Senate, challengeing the clueless incumbent Herb Kohl in the Democratic Primary.

    As of today, it's official, my 2198 signatures are sufficient.

Each honest calling, each walk of life, has its own elite, its own aristocracy based on excellence of performance. -- James Bryant Conant