Written by Sai, aka “One of the Guys”
I discovered texting two years ago. I love it! Of course this irritates my wife to no end. She says, “Why do we have to text three times back and forth when we can just talk on the phone?” She has a good point. It’s not that I don’t want to talk to her, it’s just texting doesn’t take me out of my frame of mind; whether I’m at work, or in a meeting, or hanging out with the guys, talking on the phone requires me to shift gears, and these days, I prefer an automatic.
I think most people these days prefer to glide effortlessly through social situations, eschewing the joy and challenge of a clutch and a stick. We like having the work done for us. And boy have we all gotten lazy.
THE GUYS and I have gotten countless questions recently about troubles that have occurred on Facebook, My Space, and other social networking sites. We’re horrified that relationships are being conducted through the internet in front of a gawking crowd. No wonder the fall is so hard. Rejection is bad enough, but when there’s an angry mob watching it’s ever so painful. Because social networking sites bring to mind ancient Roman times filled with gladiators fighting all sorts of beasts and men, at insurmountable odds, under the considerable duress of a fickle crowd, that turns as easily as baking bread.
Let’s consider email, which surfaced some ten or more years ago. Like most people I took to it like a fly on fruity paper. What a time saver! And so easy! And keeping in touch with people was now easier than ever. Slowly the number of my phone messages dwindled as my inbox grew and grew. What fun!
But a strange thing began to happen. I started having more and more miscommunications via email. Arguments, disagreements, worries about job inquiries, even friendships lost! Many of these situations arose because tone, inflection, emphasis, sarcasm, humor are all lost when the written word isn’t carefully laid on the screen; instead emails are often dry, monotone messages that are ripe for misinterpretation.
And oh how easy it was, and is, for me to rifle off a quick response without taking a moment to just sit and try to figure out what I truly want to say-or try to think what the person is truly trying to say. And this is the bunny that keeps on ticking because I keep making the same mistake over and over. Some things take a lifetime to unlearn.
I have a lot of Facebook friends from many different generations. I love having friends and acquaintances from all walks of life and with various degrees of life experience. But I’m amazed at some of the pictures and words that are being flung out in the world. I mean “Really!?? Is fame, or the scant idea of fame-or just recognition-that important?” When I see these notes and images I don’t comment, but I want to reach through the screen and shake some sense into these people and say, “Repeat after me. It’s not worth it! It’s not worth it.”
Sure, we all do stupid things. I’m no different. I’ve done countless things that I wish I could reel in and tuck away in my own little-but getting bigger- private fishing tackle box; one that might be buried or burned with me when I no longer need this body. But I’m hoping I’m making some progress as my years tick away on this planet.
Relationships aren’t automatic. They are difficult mazes that require commitment every day in order to thrive and grow. They need to be watered, fed and nurtured by everyone involved; and a little love and naughty fun thrown in for good measure doesn’t hurt.
Facebook, My Space and other social sites can’t provide that kind of sustenance. They create a mirage of a full course meal that people crave, but only deliver an empty appetizer devoid of nutritional value. No wonder Corn Syrup has made such an inroad into our staple diet. We don’t even recognize the enemy when they’re knocking on our door, because we love easy. We love things gift-wrapped. We love automatics!
It’s time we all shift gears and get off the computer. You laugh because you know I’m typing this on my keyboard. But life is ironic, and people are hypocritical, but you can’t tell that by what you’re reading here. You don’t really know how serious I am-I’m very serious-and that I truly mean all the things I’m writing even if I’m using the very medium I’m criticizing. I never said the computer was evil, just that it isn’t going to help us conduct our relationships and help us foster new ones.
Computers can make life much easier, but when it comes to relationships it makes things much harder. It’s creating more work and more ambiguity in our lives, and then requiring more energy from us to deal with the problems and sort them out. It’s a lot easier to just take care of business with someone over dinner, lunch or tea. And there’s nothing like hearing something straight from the horse’s mouth.
One thing I try to remind myself of as I’m sitting across the dinner table from my wife, or a friend, or one of my kids, is that they should feel like the only person in my universe at that very moment. When I feel the vibration of a text coming in-yes for some reason I still have my phone on me, which is another problem for another time- I have to resist the urge to respond. The message will be waiting for me when I am finished with a pleasant dinner, hopefully devoid of sugary syrup, but definitely topped off with some dark chocolate.
And that’s the beauty of technology.
What do you use social networks for?
How do you like to communicate?
Should relationships be conducted via social networks?
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