Busy Signal: Are Social Networks Interrupting Our Social Life?
Last night, I was checking out guilty pleasure, Julia Allison’s blog, and she had a quote on it that said:
Are we moving away from being fully present and engaged because we are too busy broadcasting to the world that we are indeed leading an interesting life?
It was linked to a column on Huffington Post written by Jasmine Boussem. As someone who has lived nearly half of her life on the Internet, and more than 5 years of that as a blogger, I of course wanted to check it out to find out what her take on the whole phenomenon of excessive connectivity meant to her. Her analysis is fairly spot on and her example of a dinner party where everyone was too busy recording the fact they were at a dinner party rather than actually participate in said party was telling.
Thus far, I have spent my entire twentysomething career on the Internet. I joke that I am an Internet celebrity, although I really don’t have that many followers and those that I do have, I generally know and talk to on a regular basis and I consider them friends, not followers, and I’m not sure what the difference is between being famous and having followers and just having a lot of friends. Maybe there isn’t one?
Although I am on Facebook and Twitter, a blogger and have the evil iPhone, which is like the gateway drug to becoming a hermit, I try to not completely alienate my boyfriend, family and friends from wanting anything to do with me. Most of what I blog or tweet happens before and after what I actually do. I try to save my thoughts and funny quotes for later on, because it will probably be just as funny then as it is right now and by the way, have you ever heard of the phrase “You should have been there”? Well, I wasn’t, and the Internet doesn’t really make that great of a substitution.
It’s scary to think that we would rather share with people who are not with us what we are doing than actually interact with the people who are actually physically present. A single tweet saying that you are with a group of people can be fun – I’ll admit to tweeting a group “hello” during the meet-ups that I host, but then the phone goes away. I do not continually tweet to the bloggers who are not at my meet-up what is going on. Because there are very important people who are with me who have spent time and money and energy to get where they are and that deserves respect.
It’s easy to want to stay connected with as many people as possible. I’ll be the first to admit that I have formed many meaningful relationships through my online encounters. It’s the primary way I made friends when I first moved to New York City. But the truth is that offline relationships need as much care and devotion as our online relationships. We blog daily to maintain readers and we come up with interesting topics to tweet about so we don’t lose followers or so that we’ll be retweeted and gain new followers. But what happens to the in-real-life friends who fall by the wayside because you’re too busy talking to people you’ve never met to find out what is going on in the life of the real flesh and blood person sitting in front of you. In that moment, there is only one friend, only one fan, only one follower of yours that deserves the best 140 characters you’ve got.
How do you maintain the balance between your social networking and your social life?