Tuesday, June 2, 2009

We met online

I'm curious what people think about how social websites (MySpace, Facebook) and even dating websites (eHarmony, Match) have changed and shaped how relationships are formed and built. I have participated in 3 of the mentioned websites and my conclusion is this: relationships have gotten wider and shallower. You can have a relationship with someone you've never seen, never touched, and never spoken to with your actual voice. It's so strange if you think about it, and 20, or even 10 years ago this type of relationship would have seemed extraordinary. And now it's common. 34% of people in dating relationships admit they first communicated through a social website before ever meeting in person, 78% of those used Facebook or MySpace, 19% used eHarmony or Match, and 3% used other sites. Ok, I just made all of that up. But my point is that those percentages didn't shock you did they? Online, potentially superficial, relationships are so common. But when does all this connectivity begin to wear thin? Will there ever be a point when technology can't get any more direct? I'm sure people were asking the same thing 20 years ago, and look how far it has progressed since then! But really? How much closer can we get to people and yet still be a million miles away? With cell phones and Facebook and now Twitter and all these other ways to tell people what is going on with you, do we even need to see anybody in real life anymore? We can just continue updating our sites, having our friends and family watch us go through life on the computer screen. How sad it would be if we became so well-connected to people that we didnt need to see them anymore! Well, I, for one, am making a commitment to not be that well-connected any longer. The first step I took months ago was to close my MySpace account. More recently, I changed the privacy settings on my Facebook page. And I'm trying to be better at calling people instead of simply texting. Why make these changes?

1. Not everything I do is meant for everybody to see and/or know about. A little mystery never hurt anybody, right?

2. If you want to know what's going on with me, ask me in person (or I'll let you buy me lunch and I'll tell you anything you want to know!), or call me!

3. A real life conversation is more than just the exchanging of information, it's being with somebody, it's seeing a person express their joy or emotion when they are speaking about something they love or some circumstance they found themselves in. And also allowing that person to watch me while I talk about who knows what (I come from a family of talkers)

So as I think about scaling back my involvement on these sites (Facebook), it's not because I don't like the site, I think Facebook is a great way to keep in touch with people, show pictures and videos, basically an enriched email, if you will, but I crave real relationships. Live and in person. In the past week I realized how great it is to be with people, and as a loner, that's a pretty big realization. Don't get me wrong, I still love my alone time, but as far as relationships go, I need them to be real, not technified. This past Friday night, I attended an outdoor birthday party and got so much joy out of hanging out with friends, and for about an hour I sat in the grass and just watched everyone talking and playing music and laughing and singing. The memorable part was seeing that it doesnt take money or fancy locations or big events to enjoy each other. The next night I was at my friend Dean's condo as he worked on depopcorning his cieling and it was so much fun to be there with him and Sarah. Not sure I could've depopcorned all night like he wanted to (thanks for showing up Merilee, Wendi, and Sarah) but we had a fun time with each other as we worked. So I will end with this extremely wise statement that I will forever be remembered for:

Relationships are about people, dorkwad! So get in 'em, stay in 'em and call somebody!

But seriously, I challenge you to get less-connected on the computer, and go see a friend or call them.

1 comment:

  1. I agree, but I also totally disagree at the same time :) For people like me that live in a foreign country, things like Facebook are pretty much necessary to keeping up friendships in the States. I can't just easily call a friend, or meet up with a friend in the states...Technology is my lifeline to friends in the states... so while being connected physically is WAY better than being connected through technology, being connected through technology is WAY better than not being connected at all :)