How Connected Are We?

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I called an old friend a few weeks ago.  I’m talking about a “known her since 6th grade” type of friend.  I didn’t call to talk or even catch up.  I called for a specific answer to a specific question and left her a message to either call me back or email me with the answer.  I even mentioned that I realized it was close to the after school “witching” hour and her kids would be walking through the door soon therefore I didn’t want or need to talk long, I just needed some information.

I got nothing.

I assumed that she must have been really busy or out of town or, God forbid, in a coma. But then later, when I logged on to my Facebook page I noticed that she had plenty of time for all sorts of benign shit like updating her status (she was doing her laundry), tagging photos and writing on other people’s walls. Yet she didn’t have time to write “yes” or “no” on mine.  Hmmmm.  I thought these social networking sites were supposed to keep us better connected?

If you’re “connected” it means that you are joined together so as to provide access and communication. Think of a phone line.  When I call and you answer, we’re connected. When I’ve emailed and you’ve responded, we’ve connected.  But when I read about the fact that you’ve lanced a boil on your ass and posted a picture of your high school self with your unfortunate “ode to the Flock of Seagulls” hair cut, we haven’t connected, you’ve simply provided me with access.  Nothing more. Nothing less.

I think it’s time we call social networking sites what they really are.   They have become the reality shows of the common man.  And like reality shows, it’s great when you first tune in and meet the new contestants, roommates, bachelors, singers, super-models, housewives or fashion designers, but after you get the back story via the first few episodes then it’s not very informational.  It’s just another distraction.

Don’t get me wrong.  At times it’s a great distraction.  Having access to folks from my past, people I used to know and love, is wonderful.  I’m just accepting that access doesn’t guarantee connection.  Knowing facts doesn’t neccesarily translate to understanding a person’s current situation or magically inspire a new connection.  That takes work.  Always has and regardless of how many status updates or Twitter feeds you get in a day, it always will.

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9 responses to “How Connected Are We?

  1. You’d love this essay about a guy with over 700 facebook “friends” who threw a facebook party and no one came.

    “Seven hundred friends, and I was drinking alone.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/26/magazine/26lives-t.html

  2. That’s insane. I’ve heard rumors that potential employers will see how many Facebook friends you have to help determine if you’re worthy of hiring. Perhaps they should read that article. Thanks for sending it.

  3. I totally agree, facebook has it place; it’s purpose (whatever that may be??) but geees people. Let’s not forget to really connect on more than whether or not you’re having pizza.

  4. How’s this for a connection! We’ll be down on the 27th! LOL. You were warned.

  5. It’s been a little disappointing to me. I think that I’m going to find out about someone’s life only to find out about their day-to-day activities. On the other hand, it’s nice to know how to get in touch with someone if you need/want to. I’ve also discovered connections between people that I would have never guessed. For example, my brother’s fiance went to college with a friend from High School – seeing who our “mutual friends” are, made that happen, so that’s cool.

  6. KMan: Make sure that you log onto FB and tell folks when you’re gassing up the car, whether you take 68 or the turnpike and of course – how fabulous your trip was to hang with your super-duper niece upon returning. 🙂

    Glad you’re both coming. Looking forward to it.

  7. HEY – I just got my very first Facebook page 2 days ago! A social netwrok junkie and a rookie, be gentle with me!!

  8. Gee, looking at other comments…am I supposed to use some acronym or quirky initialls to ID myself?? I just blurted out my first name!

  9. As long as you don’t use your last name, list your phone number and/or address – You’re fine.

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