How the Internets Shape My Day-to-Day Life (as a Feminist)

One thing that was really interesting for me about the Women + Power Conference was all the discussion about blogging and other Internet technology and how it shapes our activism, our news-reading habits, etc.  From the stage, there were some really interesting stories about, for example, how a woman in rural Africa was able to connect to other women in a way she never would have been able to pre-Internet through the site Pulse Wire.  In our intergenerational lunch conversation, we talked more about how the Internet affects us generally, in terms of relating and developing friendships, both positive and negative.

When I got home, I started thinking about just how I do use the Internet both for information gathering and for community building.  Of course, I’m very conscious of things that the Internet helps me with in terms of getting information about the weather, restaurant menus, contact info, all that stuff that I find myself without when I’m away from the computer.  But what I don’t pay as much attention to is the social element.  I also wonder how my Internet use differs from others my generation and a little bit older, or a little bit younger.  So I’ll describe a typical day of Internet usage for me, and I’d be interested to hear how this differs from your experience in the comments.  Also, coincidentally I came across a blog post today that discusses relationships and Facebook.  Though Facebook isn’t a big social medium for me, I thought you might be interested to check out what this blogger has to say.

A Day in the Online Life of Me

Keep in mind, of course, that I’m not working right now, so I can spend a lot more time online.

Right after waking up:  Read through Twitter Feed and Tweet once.  Check e-mail.  Read my Google Reader (a few traditional newspapers, feminist websites and blogs, queer blogs, sexuality blogs, law and other academic blogs, foodblogs, Daily Beast, friends’ blogs, NPR, the New Yorker).

During the day: Watch a few TV shows online (Rachel Maddow Show, Daily Show, Colbert Report).  Post to one or two of my blogs.  Spend a good 4-6 hours intermittently chatting with friends online.  I met many of my closest friends online initially, and some I have never met in person, which was a particular surprise to the older women at the intergenerational lunch.

Night: Settle into a chat room with a group of my friends.  Chat till around 11 pm – 1 am until my eyes absolutely won’t stay open.  Rinse and repeat.

Some observations: One thing I don’t use a lot is Facebook, though it’s a great tool for invitations and organizing contact information.  I don’t read Twitter more than once a day, which means that I miss a lot.  I was surprised to hear presenters this weekend talk about meeting people on Twitter.  Meet?  But it’s 140 characters!  I met most of my friends through blog and online journal comments, communities specific to a particular interest, or OKCupid, an online dating site that I use to meet other queer friends and sometimes make dates.  After making a connection, our primary contact is through IM.  I also don’t use Skype or videochat, so my contacts are almost all textual.  Sometimes when I do meet someone in person I’m surprised by how their personality is different, how they look, how they interact.  I don’t know if it’s good or bad – just different.

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About Avory

Avory Faucette is a queer feminist activist, writer, and public speaker. Zie graduated from the University of Iowa with a JD in 2009, focusing on international human rights and gender/sexuality issues in the law. Hir current work focuses on queer identity, policy, and marginalized identities under the queer umbrella. As a genderqueer person, zie comments frequently on non-binary identity, transgender and genderqueer issues, and media coverage of these populations. Zie also speaks at colleges, universities, and events on transgender and queer issues and conducts trainings on related topics.

Posted on September 16, 2009, in activism, feminism and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Isn’t it amazing how much time we spend on the Internet? Or, better yet, how much time we spend in front of a computer?

    I went on a road trip this summer and discovered that I could live without it all. Turns out, not seeing a computer for days on end was completely liberating. And I think it’s something I need to do more of. Then again, the Internet has many benefits, some of which you’ve mentioned here. Social activism/political activism can benefit immensely from the Internet. But we can’t forget to be active outside of the web. I think a lot of generation does just that, and it worries me…

    Thanks for the link love!!

    • And thanks for your thought-provoking post! It’s always fun to discover a new blog 🙂

      You know, I tried to do that computer-less thing at the Women + Power Conference and I kind of failed, being a bit glued to my iPod. I could manage no phones, but just having the Internet made me use it. I did once go on a week-long trip to southwest France, leaving my computer at my house back in Ireland, and I found it liberating, but also frustrating (what’s the weather going to be? how do I get to such and such place?) When traveling, it is nice not to have to be able to plan out everywhere you’re going in advance, but at the same time nice to cut out the distractions and tie back to the “real world.”

  2. My life exists on the internet..

    I use twitter a lot more than you do. In fact, I get twitter in real-time on my blackberry. Not for everybody, but for about a dozen people. A couple are family members; the rest are people I see in person on a near-daily basis. So we tend to use it as a group communication tool. I check it 5-6 times a day for everything else, although this routine usually doesn’t take more than a few minutes.

    I check facebook a couple of times a day but I don’t really utilise it that much.

    And Livejournal is a big one for me- but I have all of my RSS feeds go into that.

    I keep Pidgin open almost all of the time and I use it constantly. It’s probably an even split between work conversation and personal. There are people I’ve only ever communicated with over IM.

    I meet a lot of the people I initially met online. I’ve flown across several timezones to meet people for the first time- and have them welcome me into their home (Or I welcome them into mine) without hesitation. This goes for people I’ve known for years, as well as significantly shorter.

    Most of the people I meet in any manner initially start online. Almost every dating partner I’ve ever had began online. Even my local friends tend to be online first, if they aren’t via work.

    I don’t like to videochat because I don’t like to have to give a single person constant attention like that. When I’m on the computer I often get up, move around, talk to many people, talk to people in the room with me, etc. I rarely even watch a TV show at my computer without doing something else at the same time. It’s just the way my brain works.

    I am CERTAIN my multitasking skills were honed because of the computer. When I was a teenager I worked in customer service in a chat room. I got used to talking to ten people at once about twelve different things, and still have conversations around me in person. I’ve definitely noticed that people a generation or more older than me are absolutely astounded by this ability, particularly since I’m not skipping out on details. I know it isn’t exclusively due to the internet, but it pays a big part.

    Also I HATE phone conversations. I get very little out of it. I’d rather type.

    And since I got a blackberry I’m even more tied to the internet. And I don’t want to live life any other way. I certainly live life outside of my computer.. I do a lot of things, I’m a busy, active person. And I can have the internet everywhere I go, just the way it should be.

    • Definitely agree with you on the multitasking, yeah, and I don’t like the phone. I think the Blackberry, though, that’s part of why I’m a little slow with newer technology like Twitter. I feel like people are constantly reading and Tweeting, whereas I’m just checking once a day on a computer. It’s the kind of technology that’s really made for people with super-fancy cell phones, as the rest of us just blunder along 😉

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