So many things are conducted on the Internet now, that society has had to come up with ways of describing things conducted in the real world or in “meat space.” The term that may be used most frequently to describe being off the net is “offline mode” or simply offline. It’s becoming common to ask for real world meetings of various types in offline mode.
Though people can even meet face to face online via video conferencing, there are still some advantages to offline mode meetings. Sometimes when an offline meeting is suggested it is to continue conversations that occurred online. Additionally, not everyone has access to the most advanced technology for online communications, and most people who use the Internet for various communications tend to do so by sending each other things like emails or by chatting through text. Text only communiqués can miss a great a deal about nuance and tone, and they completely miss facial expression and body language, which are key aspects of language.
Sometimes people meet online, as in online dating, and decide at some point to go into offline mode to pursue a relationship. This can have its hazards, but may be a truer form of enhancing a relationship. One difficulty with communicating solely online is that it makes it possible for people to represent themselves in very untruthful ways. The online self can weigh anything, be any gender, and have any profession. In some instances, online self doesn’t at all match the person offline, and taking a dating relationship offline is a good way to discover whether a person is honest, though this should be done with due caution.
Offline mode doesn’t have to refer to communications between people. It can also define the actual computer and its programs. Just as many people now go online, programs may be judged by their ability to function on the Internet too. An average simulation game that is played offline only may not be as desirable as one that can be played online with various users. There is much discussion about whether any program is valuable if it doesn’t have an online mode and whether programs that solely work in offline mode are becoming obsolete.
Computers are also judged by their capacity to get online, and for most people, the functionality of a computer greatly decreases if it cannot be connected to the Internet. This isn’t always the case. It’s often recommended that parents don’t connect computers to the Internet in kid’s rooms because of the potential for kids visiting websites that are undesirable or for them conversing with online predators.
Offline mode only computers may also be desired in certain businesses where security needs are tight and concerns exist about theft of proprietary information. Some businesses may have inter-office communiqués, but disable computers from getting out of offline mode. Of course, computers are only one means of communicating via the Internet, and when a high level of security is required, businesses may also restrict things like use of camera phones or PDAs during working hours.