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Virtual Distance Beginning to Appear in Pop Culture

Welcome, welcome!  In only one week we already have over 100 members.  What a wonderful and exciting time.

I wanted to share with you an article I came across this week entitled, "All that Logging in Makes Dropping Out Much More Difficult" and I found it in the Arts & Leisure section of the NYT.

As you can see, Virtual Distance is beginning to show itself in popular culture.  As more and more people begin to discover that being online much of our time changes the way we live our lives and in some cases, in a way that is not always positive, understanding Virtual Distance becomes even more paramount.  The article refers to a few new movies that have been shown at a recent film festival, with stories based on our lives in the online age.  It’s quite an interesting article and I would recommend reading it.

Recently someone recommended that I see the movie “Catfish”.  I was able to get it from "on-demand".  It was a true story, according to the advertising – we just don’t know the truth sometimes.  However, taking it at face value, in sum, it was a sad story about a woman who had created an entire fictitious life using Facebook, and drawing in several people, who never knew, and may still not know, their pictures or identities were being used in another person’s complex fantasy.  Of course it’s not new that people in sad and somewhat desperate situations find ways to escape.  But what is new is that in that realm, people have access to others' lives as a way to fill in their own, in a way that has never been available before. 

As more pop culture begins to reflect the uneasiness and in some cases “craziness” that comes along with representing ourselves in a way that moves away from the natural, we must consider how we remain true to ourselves and to each other.  One way to do that is to minimize affinity distance – ensuring that we truly understand other people’s values and remembering that we are indeed all interconnected at a human level.

What are your thoughts?

Views: 38

Tags: affinity, catfish, culture, distance, movies, pop, virtual

Comment by Stephan Klaschka on April 19, 2011 at 7:15am
Interesting topic, Karen. - Which demographics/age-group count as 'pop-culture'?
Comment by Ellen Pearlman on April 19, 2011 at 9:52am

I am disturbed by the tendency of people to create false "realities" online. In our pop culture people live vicariously through these virtual worlds and through "reality TV" shows. What happens to real life? Are people less able to cope with day-to-day problems? Can people feel interconnected if their communication takes place virtually? When you don't have the visual cues that you pick up when you are having a face-to-face communication can you feel as connected? I don't think you can. Of course, not all communication needs to be in-person but if the majority of your interactions are virtual then you lose the ties that come from eye-to-eye contact. And if people are more comfortable in virtual space--whether online or on TV--how do they learn how to interact in the real world?


Comment by Karl Walinskas on April 19, 2011 at 12:51pm


As you know I use a lot of video to reduce Virtual Distance or increase the connection and engagement.  I am putting together a Mastermind Group company right now done entirely virtually with the use of video meetings and Skype even on the coaching sessions.  With video you see who you get.  Trust goes up accordingly.  This avitar type reality is the fantasy home of online predators.  Society grooms them young too, as many of the video games for kids advertised on Nickelodeon & Disney are online, virtual reality games, and if my kid is any indication, lots of parents are getting bugged to sign up and, of course, buy credits, widgets, weapons for the game, etc.

Comment by Karen Sobel Lojeski on April 26, 2011 at 11:27am



Thanks for the post!  Video can certainly help to reduce Virtual Distance when it works well and everyone has access.  It's good to hear that you are using Skype so productively.  For kids, as you point out is a whole different story.  My daughter got curious about something on her IPOD and went to go explore.  Up popped a live video stream and a young girl in a room looked into the camera and said to my daughter, "Hi Cezanne!".  She was able to get her name through the IPOD ID which was coded as my daughter's name.  It really scared her and she thought that girl could see her too.  She is 11 years old.  Parents need to take a very active role in teaching their kids about the dos and dont's of technology.   


Somehow we have to ensure that our work technology does not overtake our familial relationships in some way.  And this is very difficult but absolutely necessary if we are to raise healthy and happy children.


Thanks again!


Best, Karen

Comment by Karen Sobel Lojeski on April 26, 2011 at 11:29am

I'm not sure that there is an age group or demographic related to "pop culture" although it's a good question and something that I will look into. Thanks for the question! -Karen
Comment by Karen Sobel Lojeski on April 26, 2011 at 11:33am
Ellen - great post! You are right on the money and there is a growing body of research around the issue of identity and online activities. Some like Susan Greenfield, a controversial neuroscientist in Britain, believe that we are losing our most fundamental identities through 'pretending' to be someone else or live through a different persona online. Sherry Turkle's new book also speaks to some of this in terms of how human beings relate to themselves while also relating to machines and her vision is not very optimistic with regard to human relations. More longitudinal study is needed to see whether this ultimately impacts people as they move through life. Unfortunately, because there is a lot of lying or hiding that goes on in terms of virtual identity, some of the data collected to date is very hard to validate.

Thanks again!

Best, Karen
Comment by Michael McGarrity on April 27, 2011 at 3:01pm
 Thanks all for thought provoking views and insight.

Observing the evolution of virtual work teams it seems similar to the face to face world where affinity and trust grow through the collaborative process of achieving goals and solving problems together - or not.

Though a muscular avatar in a super hero costume may in reality be a disabled person in a wheelchair, we may never know.

What matters most is what we bring to the table to contribute to each other and so doing, advance our collective cause.

All the best!



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