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I live by Internet, as both a user and a developer. This dual role gives me a chance to observe.

Every time I try to ask something in communities like StackOverflow, I always pick words carefully and provide sufficient information, hoping that my questions will be answered in a short time. But even so, sometimes my questions still get ignored.

Maybe StackOverflow, or even the whole Internet, is too big a world, filled by floods of information. Small people try to fit in, but end up being swallowed by Twitter and Facebook, without even a sound.

So, enough of complaining, I just want to know: Is there a word or a phrase to describe this phenomenon where people find themselves lost in the the great Information Age, ignored by others?

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Small people getting ignored is called life. The small people themselves are called the majority, or the long tail. And thinking that you are getting ignored is a cognitive bias; just disconnect from the Internet completely to see how much attention it actually used to give you. –  RegDwigнt Aug 21 '12 at 10:11
What about lost in the crowd or lost in the shuffle –  Em1 Aug 21 '12 at 10:17
@RegDwightАΑA Quite interesting, "life" really got me. So +1 for you. –  Rufus Aug 21 '12 at 10:36
+1 for RegDwight The answers here are direct refutations of the OP's premise IMHO. –  Wudang Aug 21 '12 at 12:13
@Em1 +1 for lost in the shuffle should be an answer –  user14070 Aug 21 '12 at 14:23
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3 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The first phrase I thought of was the one you used: lost in. After all, being “lost” in cyberspace is relatively metaphorical.

Another alternative might be swallowed up by. NOAD defines swallow up as:

take in and cause to disappear; engulf

Information overload may also apply here, although that usually refers to being overwhelmed by information, as opposed to feeling lost in it.

If you wanted to try something wryly original, you could say that you feel like a cog in the virtual machine.

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They're all fine, but still lack of something. Big words summing up a certain phenomenon or an era, they are likely to be nouns, aren't they? Cogs in a machine? Sure, but we are not forced into it after all, so I think it's less accurate. But your answer still helps, thank you. –  Rufus Aug 21 '12 at 10:47
@Rufus: Swallow up wouldn't be the answer by itself, you'd have to pick some "big word" nouns to accompany that verb phrase (i.e., something like, I feel swallowed up by the vast anonymity of cyberspace, or, I feel isolated and insignficant, swallowed up by innumerable bits and bytes. –  J.R. Aug 21 '12 at 21:37
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There is actually a specific word for this: you’ve been warnocked, because what you have here is a classic case of Warnock’s Dilemma:

The problem with no response is that there are five possible interpretations:

  1. The post is correct, well-written information that needs no follow-up commentary. There's nothing more to say except "Yeah, what he said."
  2. The post is complete and utter nonsense, and no one wants to waste the energy or bandwidth to even point this out.
  3. No one read the post, for whatever reason.
  4. No one understood the post, but won't ask for clarification, for whatever reason.
  5. No one cares about the post, for whatever reason.

You can and must assume nothing whatsoever from a non-response; it is undecidable.

Many tragedies might well have been averted had the parties involved merely recognized this fundamental axiom of undecidability instead of leaping to unfounded conclusions, and doom.

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...which really ought to be called "Warnock's Logical Disjunction" if you care at all about the Greek roots of dilemma. –  KitFox Aug 21 '12 at 13:29
@KitFox I see the two-horned dilemma as being whether you do or do not know what the cause is. You might guess, and you might be right, but you cannot know, and thus must not. –  tchrist Aug 21 '12 at 13:48
@KitFox pentalemma? –  Random832 Aug 21 '12 at 13:57
@Random832 The OED specifically gives polylemma as “complex syllogism resembling a dilemma but involving several alternatives.” It also attests trilemma and tetralemma, but not yet pentalemma. I’d go for polylemma myself. –  tchrist Aug 21 '12 at 14:16
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It seems to me OP's question is based on a false premise, as indicated by some comments.

The fact that most individuals aren't particularly significant/acknowledged on the Internet doesn't imply the Net has some "nameable characteristic" making it tend to ignore the little people.

To the extent there's a nameable characteristic involved at all in the phenomenon OP describes, it's a matter of how the average individual perceives his insignificance within the total online world.

In that context, I suggest insignificancy, alienation, estrangement, disaffection are all plausible candidates with slightly different shades of meaning.

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