Merging of Online and Offline Culture

This morning, TechCrunch posted a piece about online dating 2.0 that got me thinking about how our online and offline lives have merged. This is especially true of the 20-something MySpace crowd and the early adopter techie crowd. Both of these two groups, while having slightly different approaches, have moved to the point of doing almost everything online.

And yes, I have used online dating, and it was a great experience for me. Shortly after my divorce, I realized that all of my friends (and all of their friends) work at Intel, which is not surprising, since we are one of the largest employers in the area; however, by dating people at work you run the risk of eventually managing or working for an ex … not a comfortable situation. Around this time last year, I met the current boyfriend on Yahoo! Personals. His take on online dating reflects the views in this post: “we have moved everything else online, why should dating be any different?”

Most of us get our news online, rarely picking up those stacks of paper filled with yesterday’s news (my parents refer to them as “newspapers”). I immediately recycle the phone books that appear on my doorstep knowing that I will never use one when I can get the same information online without having to find a place to store these books that are now roughly the size of my couch. I rarely pick up the phone to talk to friends in favor of email and IM.

This does not mean that I have moved all of my interactions with the world into the online space, and I do not think that doing everything online would be a healthy approach. We need the offline interactions as well; however, the online interactions can facilitate the offline. Email and IM just seem to be more convenient ways to arrange an evening out. Many of us who blog “meet” people online as a result of comments back and forth in the blogosphere, but we take the opportunity to meet these bloggers in the offline space when we get an opportunity at a conference or other venue. After recently exchanging blog comments with Josh Bancroft, we realized that we both worked at the same Intel campus, and getting together offline resulted in him joining a session at OSCON next week that Danese Cooper and I are leading. Both online and offline interactions have their place, but it is interesting to see how the two are merging to the point where we do not even consciously think about how we use them both.