Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Shiny Toy


Ten years ago I would never have known or cared if some guy from high school that I was not even particularly friends with got married in a western-themed three day wedding. I would not have any idea how many people from that same high school went on to marry each other, or have large broods of children, or that they named them all in odd nouveau riche fashion.  I would not watch the tragedies of illness and accident play out in these peoples lives, instead learning about them, perhaps, as a footnote to another conversation with someone with whom I have an actual relationship. "Did you hear about so and so?" "Oh, that's too bad." Now though, I do know about these things. I see the happenings of all kinds of people to whom I am not really connected, but I do not really share in them, nor is it my place to. That person that friended me on Facebook after not calling for eight years is probably just satisfying either their ego (how many friends do you have?) or some kind of morbid curiosity (can you believe she looks like that now?). While I appreciate the opportunity to say a few kind words to an old friend or donate money to a good cause, I wonder if any of this is tangible, if any of the connections are real. More and more I find the shiny toy of social media useful only for the passing along of information, largely to and from people with whom I have no emotional connection. It serves as a wonderful newsletter and bulletin board and promotional tool, but falls short in maintaining any kind of real connection or friendship. I shudder to think that people who pay attention to my Facebook page believe they understand anything about who I am or how I live my life. 

Perhaps today is a good day to reconsider the role of social media in our lives, particularly with respect to the assumptions we make about other people, who and how they are, and whether or not we are actually maintaining a friendship with them. Consider the people in your life that really matter, then pick up the phone and actually speak to them, you will both be glad for it.


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