Saturday, March 12, 2011

Is Social Networking Affecting Your Social Life?

     With time being a hot commodity these days social networking is the easy way to keep in touch with your friends.  Think about it, one statement/quip/question or conundrum  has the potential of reaching all 1,219 of your closest friends in ONE shot … how fantastic is that?!   Or is it?

     Whatever your online social scene might be (mine is Facebook), you (or someone you know) are probably guilty of spending a bit too much time eavesdropping  in on your friends lives and/or creating a witty status that will be sure to elicit a slue of replies (score!).  But what are you doing to your friends by doing all of this GROUP work? What are you doing to your self? In the last 24 hours I've done some thinking about these two questions and I've got an opinion to share.

     If you've ever taken a lecture hall at a large university you know the feeling of being just a number.  It’s a  less than stellar feeling when your unique demeanor  and "tight bond" with your professor is all but diminished when you bump into them in public and are asked, "are you in one of my classes?"  Suddenly you see your identity slipping away from you and you fight for every last bit of  "ME" and point to your crazy miss-matched shoes in hopes of sparking their memory. 

     Facebook has become my lecture hall, "Julie's life 101" but I get the special task of being professor AND student (as do you)!  You take my class and I take yours we learn, we share (or not) … and at times we create controversy … verbal spitballs are fired, a student will drop-out or a professor will quit.  Is this really the atmosphere you want to share with your friends … your FRIENDS. Those people who have been there for the last 3-28 years, the ones who pick you up when you fall down, the people who know your inner-secrets.  Those whose lives you have allowed to be cluttered among the rest of the "riff-raff" of your online social scene. Those "friends" are reduced to a number and suddenly  are no longer special. Best friends birth announcements  are given to you at the same time "drunk bill" from across town finds out.  A slap in the face … 16 years of friendship reduced to a mere " 12 point Arial font, unpunctuated, misspelled and poorly received life altering fragment."   What makes it worse is when you want to respond and contemplate a phone call, your teetering with "but maybe they are too busy, I mean if they wanted to hear from me they would have called me, right?!" So you deicide to just type (the now seemingly obligatory) congratulations and again are shot down because among the 802 people that responded your teetering set your reply back by 52. Not to mention  your "endearing" response is overshadowed by "drunk bill's" comment of "better get that baby tested, remember I kissed your woman once ROFL."  *sigh*

     In a last ditch effort to be noticed, to be revered as special and once again gain a "BFF" title you share a truly heart-felt (even heart -wrenching) tid-bit … complete with a sad face and tears for the world to see. Yet, your lasso is sent out into an empty crowed, and you rein in nothing but cricket chirps and hear the faint "Bueller, Bueller" resonating in the background hum of your computer. Why do we subject ourselves to this? And more importantly why do we do this junk while in the presence of friends or family?

     Nothing says, "I enjoy your company and love to hang out with you," more than hiding behind your smart phone while  periodically cracking  your knuckles and chuckle at the many responses of this mornings "snuggies are a bitch" post.  Mean while your friend, the one who rescheduled a meeting to see you and drove through hellish road construction starts fidgeting with the sugar packets until finally logging into FB themselves.  I mean if hanging out with me leaves you wondering what others are doing, then do ME the favor of not wasting MY time! 

     Lets face it,  we are all at one point or another "attention whores" (yes, ALL of us)  but your narcissism should not leave the people you care about feeling unworthy of you.  You have something to say and its great to have that outlet to do so, but take the time to un-plug, be present for life and enjoy the people around you... not just through the screen of your computer.  

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