My husband’s friend recently visited from out of town for a weekend, and it was fun. We always enjoy having this guy around. Not only is he my husband’s friend, but at this point, he’s mine too. It’s nice that I can say that and mean it.
We got to talking about Facebook. I mentioned that another friend of mine is on Facebook but never goes on Facebook because he blames it for the disconnection of society, which led to a rather interesting discussion on social media.
Social media, at its best, is a tool, like a phone or a hammer. If I use my hammer to pound in a nail (what the tool is made for), it works perfectly. If I use my hammer to open a jar, it’ll work. Once. :) The point is that social media is a tool. If it’s used to keep in touch with old friends, see their pictures, and stay up on their lives, then in my opinion, the tool is being used correctly. However, if it’s used in place of a social life, if I’m checking my Facebook feed instead of interacting with another human being, then it’s being used incorrectly. If I’m using Facebook to be passive aggressive or start arguments that I’d never start in person, then it’s being used incorrectly. I’m I’m using Facebook to put people down, compare my life to others, or brag, then I’m using Facebook incorrectly.
Back in the 1800s, everyone wrote letters. They had lovely handwriting and wrote lovely long letters to one another, filled with banal details of life. The Facebook feed is nothing new; it just takes a different form now. It’s faster and without filters. Sometimes I read critical statements about how people share “unimportant” information about their lives, and that’s the problem with the Facebook feed. Personally, I’d rather read about someone “checking in” than a passive aggressive post telling an unidentified person to stop something. I don’t mind seeing food pictures or reading that someone is tired, because it’s real life. We act like things have to be “important,” but why? Maybe that’s what leaves us feeling lost and disconnected, that idea that others have more important things to say/ do or that others are having more fun. Why can’t we just be? And if the most important thing that happened to me today is that my eggs and toast looked like a smiley face, why shouldn’t I post that?
A guy in Australia is in the process of having coffee with all 1,088 of his Facebook friends. What a fun idea! I would too if I had unlimited income and could fly to Pennsylvania, Maryland, Montana, and more places, spend a few weeks there to see everyone, and have coffee (or lemonade) with all of them. Still, in my opinion, the point isn’t what he’s doing so much as it is that he’s connecting with old friends, some of whom he probably hasn’t seen in a long time.
All that being said, while I love Facebook and accept it for what it is, I also don’t want it to take the place of real human interaction. Real human interaction doesn’t have to be face to face. For example, I have a childhood friend who I was very close to while she lived up the street, but in the pre-social media days, we lost touch when she moved away. I missed her, but keeping in touch was difficult, and we moved on with our lives. About 20 years later, we reconnected through the magic of Facebook, and she’s just as zany and interesting as I remember. I comment on her feed and vice versa, but we also “talk” via messaging and email. Without Facebook, I probably never would have reconnected with her. She lives in Montana, and I live in Texas, so we probably won’t be getting together for coffee, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t raise our virtual cups together!
What do you do to connect with old friends?