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.