Posts Tagged ‘social networking’

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January 28, 2009

I have now had a couple of conversations about social networking and actual human interaction, so I thought I might put some of the results on here.

I will start off by saying that I have a facebook, a rarely used myspace, a twitter, and some abandoned blogs, and this blog. I spend a considerable amount of time on the internet, and probably most of it is wasted.  If there is any finger pointing about using technology badly, I am the recipient.

These conversations I have had usually revolve around the benefit, real or imagined, of social networking and online friendships. Am I any closer to the friends I connect with on facebook because of facebook?

I would say: hardly. I do keep in touch with a couple of friends via facebook, and before that we would send the occasional e-mail. Now there is an easy interface through which to plan our usual get together around Christmas. Most of the stuff I do on facebook is not necessarily because of facebook, but it certainly provides a trendy and easy way to look at my friend’s wedding pictures.

What I do have because of facebook is a connection to hundreds of friends that I did not keep in touch with after high school/when I moved to the States/after college. That connection is mostly fake. I see what they are up to, I comment on what they are doing every once in a blue moon. I’m not actually friends with them again, facebook just gives us a chance to perpetually accidentally run into each other in the virtual realm. Make quick small talk, then forget about each other again.

What facebook can do is replace actual relationships. People have important conversations (about important topics) with each other without being able to read vocal cues or body language (what I might suggest is critical to interacting with someone else). But it is simpler, faster, and easier. Friendship lite – being able to say you are close without really interacting with others.

I am nowhere near perfect in my use of the internet. I see friends online that I should call, and I instead send them a short message. I pull back and use it as an excuse to not invest in some of the people I hold near and dear. What has become a temptation for me is to keep every relationship I hold at some sort of maintaining level – commenting on facebook or referencing in a tweet merely to keep the glowing embers of a friendship alive so I can talk to them when I really feel like it. Like keeping people interested so that should my fancy ever strike, I can have a pleasant phone call to make me feel good and then not call them again for a year.

Basically, to try and tie up my ramblings, my thoughts are based on the idea that technology is neutral – it can’t destroy intimacy and close relationsihps. We have to do that all by ourselves. If we use our iPhones and laptops and facebooks and tweets to replace actual human interaction, we are cheapening what God has given us in other people by keeping them at a distance. If we augment our social lives by keeping in touch with each other occasionally, it can be just another way to find out who is bringing the Doritos.