Perhaps you are a Twittering Text-a-holic, or an Emailing Facebookie. You spend hours each day updating your status, twittering away for your followers, texting to your heart’s content, and addicted to your email – more than likely delivered to your mobile device. You have 1,532 facebook friends, 891 twits who follow you, and your unlimited texting plan is what you live for. You just can’t get enough. You’re more connected than ever.
Or, are you?
For those of us 30 and older, we can still remember what it’s like to have a conversation with someone. But, those days are seemingly coming to a crashing halt. Technology, along with mismanaged time and an overextended schedule, has led to this connected-disconnected dichotomy.
I heard someone say recently that people don’t read email anymore, only texts. Really? Or, have we just allowed the cell phone providers talk us into believing that?
A mother recently told me that when she calls her teenage daughter while she is out with friends, the daughter refuses to answer the phone. “It’s too embarrassing to talk to your mom in front of friends,” she said. So, her mom now texts her daughter, “that way, no one knows she’s communicating with her mom.”
I heard a dad talk about taking his teenage daughter and her friend to a baseball game recently. He looked over at her during the game, and she was texting away. He asked her who she was texting, and she said, “Her,” and motioned to her friend sitting in the seat right beside her!
It’s reported that facebook now has more than 300 million users. That number would form the fourth largest country in the world! I also read that between 5,000-10,000 new Twitter accounts are opened each day! But, what you don’t hear is that 60% of twits close their account within the first month, rarely - if ever - post, and don’t follow anyone. And, I think I know why.
With Twitter, it’s a one monologue. It’s one-sided. There’s no conversation. It doesn’t fill a void (unless it’s a need to feel needed).
Facebook, on the other hand, is a conversation…but it’s still relatively passive. I can chat, exchange comments, send notes and invitations…but it requires little effort or interpersonal skills. And, if you want to know my true opinion, it’s a way for insecure people to feel affirmed and validated. I mean, who DOESN’T love for people to comment when you post “Going to bed. Night night.” on your wall?
At the end of the day, I believe that technology has given us a false sense of connection. Yes, in sheer numbers, we are connected like never before. As last count, I had 450+ facebook friends. But, I probably would only consider 15-20 of those people REAL friends. The rest are acquaintances, co-workers, family, and friends of friends. And, I get an inflated ego by having more and more friends. It makes me feel and appear important. But, I’m really not investing relationally with anyone by sending them an invite to join the latest cause, or to join the next cool group, or to compare tastes in movies, or what Disney character is most like me.
Am I against texting, email, facebook, or Twitter? No. But, when we spend hours on end on these sites, and communicate with people 160 characters at a time through a text, and never engage with people face-to-face, we actually end up becoming withdrawn, isolated, and lonely.
We all know that we can be surrounded by hundreds of people, and still feel lonely. I urge you to continue to invest in people’s lives, build relationships, and connect – not just from your phone or your computer – but in person.