I had an e-mail from a friend today.
I had not spoken to him for a while as our last communication had been rather contentious- first over Facebook, then by e-mail. I had been trying to catch up with him to have a face to face discussion but it had not worked out yet- phone calls missed, text messages crossed- you know how it goes.
It left me reflecting not for the first time (see here for example,) on how the internet allows for a million connections- all of which lack something crucially human. And of how it allows us to sit in our isolated boxes and have the illusion of human interaction via all sorts of electronic devices, but still to remainwholly alone.
That is not entirely fair of course- it is possible to send lots of information by means of our computers and the glorious internet. For example- you are reading this. But as a means of doing what humans were really made to do- to share our lives in community- it has major flaws.
It lacks flesh.
It closes us off from all of those human communication nuances- body language, facial expression, physical touch.
It is constantly open to misinterpretation.
It places communication at a distance from emotion.
It promotes volume (‘hits’, numbers of face book friends, connection speed etc.) over quality and depth.
When the going gets tough, it is even easier to move on- simply take someone off of your contact list.
The best of what we are is revealed through our human community- the love we show for one another and the sacrifices we are prepared to make for one another. You simply can not do this in any kind of complete way via a computer screen.
Back to the e-mail. This is what it said-
I am caught up in a real mess and i need your help. I’m sorry I didn’t inform you about my trip ,I had a trip to the NEW YORK and a bizarre thing happened to me.I was mugged at gun point last night, the muggers carted away with all my belongings excluded my passport.Cell,c-card,cash and some important documents are all gone.
I was able to make contact with the US Police and i was directed to the Consular office, but they seems to be taking things to slow. i need your help so urgently.. My flight leaves pretty soon but i am having problems sorting out the hotel bills and also need getting my ticket straightened out. I need your help. I need a quick loan to get things fixed out here, I promise to refund as soon as i get back home.. please reply as soon as you get these email. so i can tell you what to do and how to get the money to me..
Hope to read from you soon..
Now to be honest, I was sceptical. But my friend has American connections, so I thought that it was not impossible that he was indeed in trouble and needed help, so I replied asking him what was going on, and what he needed. I then received a reply that suggested that he needed $1500, and way for me to pay.
I phoned my friend, and he answered. He was not in New York- of course it was a scam, as someone had hacked into his Google mail account.
But we managed to plan to meet next week- and I am really looking forward to seeing him again. E-mails are dangerous, but sometimes they can facilitate real connections, and for that, I am grateful.