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Springing Into Cyberspace

Mark Gorkin, LCSW ("The Stress Doc")

The Stress Doc shares the first of a two-part column for an offline newsletter that reaches out to those individuals still holding on to reality over virtuality. Share this message of hope (maybe, hype, but why quibble) with a computer or cyberspace virgin.

As the lazy hazy days of summer descend, I'll draw upon a series I wrote for a cyberpal's quarterly newsletter, CONNECTION, the Spring and Summer editions. (For those of you in the New York City-Riverdale-Westchester area interested in psychology and family health matters, email for more info about the community educational programs put on by a great husband and wife counseling team.) Share today's column with someone still hopelessly wedded to reality. Enjoy!

In this season of rebirth, with the themes of emancipation and resurrection as a catalyst, let me share some thoughts on overcoming restrictive beliefs and for soaring into new dimensions. When it comes to cyberspace, are you spinning your wheels or are you ready to join the techno-spiritual revolution?

Some of you are full participants. Others are on the edge, ambivalent about jumping into cyberspace. For those folks who'd still rather interact with real people than a computer machine, for individuals who are absolutely committed to reality over virtuality...come on, "Get over it." (At least that's what that great Washington statesman, upon his reelection, declared to the press corps. I mean, why should the press have doubted Mayor Marion Barry's capacity for moral authority just because he'd been criminally prosecuted for cocaine use and soliciting a prostitute? In my earthbound residence, clearly, the local citizenry are very understanding of human appetites and forgiving of human frailty in political leaders.)

And speaking of the politcal sound byte, believe me, you computer- and cyberphobes, "I feel your pain." Until four years ago, unlike some of the aforementioned, I was a total virgin, a computer virgin, that is, anxious to the max about performing with the new technology. However, driven by peer envy, I threw caution and shame to the wind, hired a computer coach...And now, like my political role models, I too have my very own addiction. A cyberaddict...and proud of it! (And with computers, most of the time, it's a lot easier to "Practice Safe Sex...I mean Stress!")

You Say You Want a Revolution

Actually, for me, participation in cyberspace borders on the techno-spiritual, if not the religious. Not only can one discover and share cutting edge ideas and info that, so often, can only be taken on faith (this essay, for example), but you can readily create a community of kindred spirits. Of course, cyberspace and reality may converge with over the edge consequences when, for example, a cyber-oriented community, following its omniscient space cadet, decides to hitch a ride on a comet to reach a rarefied plane of existence. (It didn't seem fair just singling out East Coast leaders and followers.)

Cynical humor aside, I have experienced some of the startling, if not religious, effects of cyberspace travel and the World Wide Web - such as getting out the word, exchanging thought-provoking ideas from all corners of the globe, while building a far flung and loose network of psychologically-minded individuals and, even, dabbling in some cyberotica. (Isn't that a wonderful semantic invention? And besides, sex and religion have long been strange, if not political, bedfellows. Why not virtual ones? Like Al Gore never cruised a chat room?) And now I'm engaged in the most fundamental spiritual pursuit of the US of A and of cyberspace (especially if you are on America On Line)...making money off the internet. And for a writer and self-employed consultant who religiously practices "existential capitalism" - when you mostly don't know where your next dollar is coming from - this is no small evolutionary step.

Sisters and Brothers, Write On

So how did my cybercapitalist journey begin? For such original revelation, I must push beyond the sexual and spiritual and go back to the cosmic - for my "Big Bang Theory." As the Lord saieth, it all began with, "The Word." Then a stream and then the floods. A little over a year ago, still licking my wounds from being dumped - unfairly, I may add - as a federal government consultant, I was mousing around a writers' bulletin board on AOL. I came upon a solicitation that caught my eye: an electronic humor newsletter was looking for submissions. I emailed some articles and, to my surprise, instead of a black hole venture, I was soon asked to be a contributing writer.

At first, the publisher of Humor From the Edge challenged me to condense my pieces to 100 words. (Later, the editor confided that the Jokemeistr didn't think I'd be up to it.) And initially, the skepticism was well founded. "What! You can't restrict a psychologically deep, creative writer like this." Well, I put a lid on my ego. Wrote several short "psychohumor" stories..and began building on my small successes and growing confidence. I used HFTE as a main space station and launched author inquiries to other corners of cyberspace. Next time I'll reveal how I became AOL's and the internet's "Online Psychohumorist" (TM), how my website garnered the designation of USA Today Online "Hot Site," and why my motto is: "Go web young cyber-ite!" (Though I'm still not giving up my tried and true Gorkism: "I no longer count on nor discount any possibility.") Until next time...Practice Safe Stress!

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