If one more person asks me to join Facebook and be their “friend” I think I’m going to lose it! Whatever happened to “face-time”? Doesn’t anyone communicate face-to-face anymore? Instead, it seems our main modes of relating to one another are texting, emailing or facebooking (which, if it isn’t a verb yet, will be soon). George Clooney may have said it best with his recent response to someone’s request he join Facebook. I’m not sure I’d go that far, but I understand his sentiment.
On a more serious note, research from Belgium suggests that teens aren’t getting adequate sleep because they are texting and emailing their peers late at night. Apparently many teens believe they must leave their cellphones, computers and themselves on nocturnal “standby” in case their friends need them. But is all of this social networking bringing teens closer, or is it actually making them feel more alone? In the past four months three teens have committed suicide in my town and a fourth was pulled from the tracks at the last minute before attempting to jump in front of a train. I’ve no doubt all four teens had plenty of “friends” on Facebook, (perhaps even their parents were among their Facebook friends), but did anyone really know what was going on with them emotionally?
I believe that these very technologies that are designed to bring us closer together are instead further isolating us behind our computers and cellphones. For that matter, even when people are together they are often separated by technology. I frequently observe people walking together down a street or sitting at a table in a restaurant talking not to each other – but to their cellphones!
And don’t even get me started about Twitter. Do we really have to tell the world what we had for breakfast? Does everything boring detail of our lives need to be communicated to the masses? Why do people believe that the mundane details of their lives are even interesting? Furthermore, whatever happened to discretion?
I’m all for technology bringing greater ease and efficiency into our lives. This blog, for example, enables me to reach people with wellness information that is hopefully pertinent and useful to them. But, when we replace technology with human contact, that’s where I think we need to draw the line.
So go ahead and call/text/email a real friend. But make a point of getting together in person (without your cellphones, blackberries and laptops) for a good old-fashioned, face-to-face and heart-to-heart conversation.