Sunday, September 20, 2009

Techinal Connection=Social Disconnection

We have each other at our fingertips. Now, more than ever, we are able to connect with friends and family within seconds. The internet and I phones have given us the ability to tell the world what we’re doing and find out what’s up with everything else. But has being technology connected somehow made us socially disconnected?
I have a twitter, myspace and facebook account. I’m connected to people from my past and new incredible people I wouldn’t have met in normal circumstances. I absolutely love it! But at the same time feel that it shouldn’t replace your social life. It should enhance.
I’ll give a few examples of what I’m talking about. Ever met someone online (or connected with an old friend) and clicked so well only to meet up in person and face awkward conversation? What happened here? We seemed to have so much in common chatting online? Is this online social networking affecting our ability to interact well with others in person?
Ever been out with friends and everyone was on their cell phone text messaging or on a social networking site and not talking? Very awkward feeling. You don’t want to speak because it seems as though you are bothering them. I see this a lot with a group of teenagers too. Everyone is sitting in silence consumed with the applications on their cell phones.
Ever had your children and spouse vying for your attention while you obsessively update your status? Ever looked around your house and saw everyone on technology devices, not interacting with each other?
I’m guilty of all of the above. I am aware of it. I still think that being technology connected has a lot of advantages. But I also strongly feel that the human touch is much more rewarding that the feel of a keyboard.
I do not want to be socially disconnected. When I have to wait during the day, (doctor’s office, in line at the grocery store) I do connect to the internet if I don’t have a book handy. But I also take time to acknowledge that there are other people in the room. I smile at them. I say hi if I feel compelled to do so. If they start talking to me, I talk to them, even if I don’t feel like it. They may need human compassion. They may be lonely. What is 5 minutes of my day? 5 minutes of my time may make that person’s whole day.
When I’m with friends, I’m not on social networking sites. I’m engaging with my friends. I don’t answer calls that I know will take longer than a minute. Otherwise doing so is just rude. You’re sending the message that they don’t deserve your attention. I will text but not excessively. That too is also rude.
I don’t stay on social networking sites while I’m at work so what makes me think it’s okay to do so while I’m while I’m with family? I update my status throughout the day but I don’t linger on. At night, I’m no longer staying online when I should be spending time with my husband and son. When my son looks back at his childhood, I don’t want him to remember his mom as a permanent fixture at the computer.
I think that staying connected via social networks is great because it exposes us to a lot of different types of people and opens our world to different opinions and inspirations. But if we become socially disconnected, we have a greater impact on the people around us whom we love. And not a positive impact.
My best suggestion is to be in the moment. Wherever you are, be there. If you’re sitting in class, be in class. If you are with friends, be with friends. If you are at work, be at work. Focus and savor each experience without being somewhere else mentally. When it’s time for technical time, then be there.