I remember a time when the internet wasn't taken for granted. Rather it was barely more than a new and exciting idea. I remember reading about a game far too advanced for my 300 baud modem, where players could wander a pac-man like maze, as ascii characters who could interact with each other. Other real life people, from around the world. Millenia before World of Warcraft.
I thought my social difficulties would not only be solved, before I was entirely aware that I even had social difficulties, but think of all the interesting people I could meet! I'd have a whole world of people to sift through. It's funny, because in some ways, it was very true, and now I do take it for granted. I've had an online presence most of my adult life, and met lots of interesting people, and had countless discussions of far greater depth than could ever have been accomplished in person.. and yet somehow, it hasn't been as amazing as I thought it would be.
I never really felt like I was meeting those people. The acquaintances I made never really became lasting friendships. Countless little ascii characters came and went over the years. It never really turned out to be quite as impressive as I'd expected. Was it further evidence of a deficit on my part, or was I expecting too much?
Now we're learning that there are neurochemical processes stimulated by human interaction. A handshake, a hug, even just making eye contact. These are behaviors we've evolved physiological responses to, that form the groundwork of our relationships and human interactions. The exchange of ideas across the internet just isn't going to have the same effect on the brain as hanging out with someone.
It's too bad my brain just goes haywire when I'm around people. I've been very grateful for the internet, but a wheelchair is no substitute for a working pair of legs.