Thursday, September 1, 2011

I'm sorry, but I can't be social without a keyboard.

With the advent of Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks, I have noticed a slow trend towards anti-face-to-face communication.  You probably could consider this going back to the advent of email in all honesty, but I want to spend a few minutes talking more about social networking.  I was a late arrival in the social networking field.  I refused to join Facebook for the longest time because I felt that it would be a huge waste of my time.  When I finally did sign up for a Facebook account, I found that I was right.  It was a huge waste of time ... a waste of time that I now cannot do without.  Now I am a member of Facebook, Google+, and even LinkedIn.  I think I did have a Twitter account at one time, but I gave up on that after one or two tweets.  I find myself checking my social networks a couple times a day ... so that I don't miss anything.

If it wasn't bad enough to waste hours on social networking websites in my personal time, it seems that corporate America is beginning to get into social networking.  Many companies have started creating internal social networking sites for their employees.  The idea is that they can share ideas, post questions, and collaborate more efficiently.  The company that I work for has created an internal social networking site that they are gently pushing employees to start using.  Now I have even more posts to check on a regular basis.  I think that makes four social network sites on which I have an account.

One of the beauties of social networking websites like Facebook is that you can communicate with people that you never thought you would talk to again.  The downside to social networking sites like Facebook is that you can communicate with people that you never thought you would talk to again.  Don't get me wrong, I love the fact that social networking has made it possible to become reacquainted with old friends.  But, I wonder at what cost.

Socializing once meant going out to dinner or drinks with a few friends.  Conversations occurred face-to-face over a table with a delicious meal (or horrible meal if you chose a bad restaurant).  Now, socializing means posting every little thing you do throughout the day on Facebook.  As a society, we are slowly going from lengthy conversations to short posts like: "Having a bad day", "Watching the sun rise", or "Just wrecked my car and am trapped under the steering wheel".  You can even hear the impact of social networking in conversations.  How many times have you said "OMG" or "WTF" when you are talking to someone?

To take this a step further into absurdity, I have even carried on an entire conversation with someone sitting next to me using my mobile phone and SMS texting.  What is worse is the fact that I thought this was a perfectly normal behavior!

My greatest fear is that someday we will all have small keyboards strapped to our wrists and small LCD screen in front of our eyes.  When we meet someone on the street, we won't talk to them, but starting posting on a social networking site.

It is not that I think that social networking is a bad thing.  But, I think that we are slowly missing out on that personal socialization that only comes from face-to-face conversation.  I will be the first to admit that my posts on social networking site are quite shallow.  Heart-to-heart conversations just don't happen on social networking sites.

So, what am I trying to say on this blog (which in itself is a social networking site)?  Let's get out from behind our keyboards, go have dinner at a nice italian restaurant, and catch up for a few hours.  If you don't like italian, we could do mexican ... just no sushi.

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