2018-10-13 jbbsfinalthoughts026 Better Online/Better F2F - The American Railroad Error

JBB’s Final Thoughts Episode 26: Better Online/Better Face-to-Face – The American Railroad Error

JBB’s Final Thoughts Episode 26: Better Online/Better Face-to-Face – The American Railroad Error

Episode 26: Better Online/Better Face-to-Face – The American Railroad Error. This podcast explores the question: Are online connections valid compared to face-to-face connections?

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Show Notes:

JBB’s Final Thoughts, episode26: Better Online/Better Face-to-Face – The American Railroad Error

The origin of this episode goes all the way back to when I was still living in Orlando, in the Spring of 2016, contemplating my experiences making and trying to maintain online connections with my friends. And here we are in the Fall of 2018 and I’m finally getting around to creating a new version and posting this episode. I also made two other recordings in the Spring of 2016, interviewing friends about specific aspects of the question about “Better Online/Better Face-to-Face. I’ll post the two other interviews later.

JBB’s Final Thoughts Episode 26: Better Online/Better Face-to-Face – The American Railroad Error

I’m reminded on the William Gibson quote, “The future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed.” Tell me about it. After I moved from Orlando I asked my friends, the Oak Hill Drifters, if they could just open a Facebook Live session at their next gig so that I could get over my separation anxiety. It didn’t happen. There was one short sideways video but no “you are there” experience. As much as there’s the possibility of having real ongoing visual relationships via technology, the choice still tends to be “too much hassle, sorry,” and life lumbers on.

I have to face facts. I know I’m the weirdo who has maintained meaningful relationships pretty much purely online for the past 15-years. Thus, I reject the notion that it’s not real because it isn’t face-to-face. I’m reminded of the American Railroad system of the first part of the 20th century which made the mistake of saying they were in the railroad business instead of the transportation business and suffered a fatal decline as a result. Connection is connection, whether it’s face-to-face over a cup of tea, or via a morning text message saying, “hey, I was thinking about you.” Humans are capable of wonderful levels of connection regardless of the mode of communication. I understand that some modes can seem to be more meaningful than others. I remember spending hours working on personal birthday cards for family and friends, but I stopped doing that when my dad unfolded one of my cards, looking for something else, and it was clear that something bought from Hallmark with very little time spent was more meaningful to him then the card I spent hours to make. And the same seems to be true when the message is sent online versus face-to-face.

Yes, if we all lived in the same small village where we saw each other on a daily basis, it would be great to get that daily greeting, or birthday greeting or whatever greeting face-to-face, but for most of us that isn’t the reality we live in. Should we now make the assumption that the limits of our locality should also be the limit to our concern or care? No, I cannot tell you how much time and emotional effort I put into my political discourses the past two-years… (sigh). A conservative friend correctly bailed out because it was so draining to have these heated discussions/arguments that were purely online. But were they meaningless? Not for me and my opponent. I mean, the emotional drain of the back-and-forth quips should be evidence enough that this was “real to us.” It’s the “American railroad mistake” to assume it’s not real because it isn’t face-to-face. It’s more a matter of how much you really care to keep the communication open by whatever means is available to you versus bitching about never spending time together and rejecting anything that isn’t face-to-face. Frankly it’s illogical to say that a phone call is more meaningful than a handwritten letter than an email than a Facebook post than a text message. Goddam it, someone took the effort to say, “I thought about you today,” and you’re going to object because it wasn’t done with a fucking candle-wax seal? A human smile is a human smile, however it’s transmitted. If you cannot value that small attempt at communication, I’m sorry for you and your inability to bridge the gap to see the smile directed at you.

I learned as a online student and then as an online educator that we could turn this business of not having a face-to-face requirement into an experience that we can have 24/7/365 because our educational efforts weren’t limited to a specific three-hour lecture once a week at some lecture hall in some city. But we could look at our assignments and interact with our classmates at anytime throughout the week, to build our understanding and learning without the limitations to a specific time or place. Would that we could maintain our relationships taking advantage of our possible connections. Do we bitch and reject possible connections because they aren’t perfect? Since when has any human endeavor been perfect? Or do we take advantage of the opportunities to connect? I have a watch that can send my actual heartbeats to someone as a way to say that I’m here and I’m thinking about you. No, it’s not the same or can ever possibly replace a real embrace. But are we in the railroad business or are we in the transportation business?

Are we going to honor the attempt to communicate and remain connected or are we going to piss it away because it’s not perfect? I wish it were better, I wish I had developed better habits to communicate with family and friends when I lived in Orlando and FaceTimed or Skyped more, but we didn’t. And I’m sad to say that I haven’t made too much of an effort to establish those kinds of communication events with my Orlando friends, now that I live in Las Vegas. But I’m hopeful. I’m hopeful that I can enjoy their smiles and conversations just like we did when we sat at the Eden Bar or Stardust Video and Coffee. Time is time and human connection is human connection. If we really wanted to, we could still share in each others world(s) despite no longer living in the same city. I would like to think that in 2018 I can have as energetic and meaningful video chats as my political reparte has been over the past two-years. That would seem to be much more valuable and healthy than all the political punches we threw and caught in that time.

Thank you for spending this time with me at JBB’s Final Thoughts. If you want to continue to participate in my outer monologue you can subscribe to my blog at http://joebustillos.com, scroll to the bottom of the page, click on the FOLLOW button where it says “Follow Blog via Email” and enter your email address. You can also subscribe to my YouTube channel, just search for JBB’s Final Thoughts (and make sure it doesn’t auto-correct to “jobs final thoughts”… damn auto-correct!). Catch you later, enjoy.


  • William Gibson quote, http://quoteinvestigator.com/2012/01/24/future-has-arrived/
  • 2017-06-30 Route 46 (Sanford FL) with OHD, Swami & Tristen (image) by Joe Bustillos
  • 2016-09-23_OHD-at-Smiling-Bison-by-Tristen (video) by Tristen Spears
  • 2002-07-12 Pepperdine OMAET CadreBleu Backrow Best Friends (image) by Joe Bustillos
  • Boy and girl in SLSF waiting room, ca. 1899 by trialsanderrors, https://flic.kr/p/5fKYih
  • 1999-02-14 Birthday Card from JBB to mom (image) by Joe Bustillos
  • 2015-12-20_FB-We-are-all-muslim (image) by Joe Bustillos
  • 2013-10-20 Living Room Office Panorama (image) by Joe Bustillos
  • 2008-06-14 Family Going Away Party (image) by Joe Bustillos
  • 2016-07-09 stardust with Sonya (image) by Joe Bustillos
  • 2016-08-05 going away party at Eden Bar (image) by Joe Bustillos

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