Thursday, August 16, 2012

social media

Is social media really a good thing? I think the basic idea of "social media" is to draw people closer together, help them stay in contact with people from different stages of life, and learn more about each other. And, in theory, that works. But it seems to me that social media is actually killing our fellowship with the people around us.

I first noticed this when I gained a new friend on Facebook. We went to the same small, private school many moons ago, and he recently requested to be my friend on Facebook. Honestly, I don't think we ever knew each other very well back then, if at all. He is a few years older than me, so I doubt we had much interaction. All I knew about him was that his dad and my dad had worked together and that his dad died a few years ago. I didn't remember the guys name and honestly hadn't even given the family a second thought in I don't know how long. I'm sure he found me through some mutual friends and recognized my name so he added me.

In the amount of time it took for me to accept his request and scan his page I knew that he now lives in Chicago, was engaged and now he's not with her anymore, where he works, and his date of birth, along with some other random facts about his life and friends. This sounds a little creepy as I'm typing it, but it's the nature of our culture. We share things with our "friends" on social media that most people would never know unless they spent a lot of time with us. I believe that this, in turn, kills our fellowship and friendships. I don't feel the need to ask my new friend out to coffee to get to know him better, because everything I ever need to know is available online and with many of my "friends" I am privy to their inner most thoughts and feelings throughout the day from status updates.

Say there is a guy that I am attracted to. If I'm friends with him on Facebook what are my chances of making small talk? The usual questions of "Where are you from?" "Where did you go to college?" "What kind of music do you listen to?" all sound pathetic because we both know that I already could have seen all of this information online.

And also, I don't feel the need to spend time with people as much because I feel like I am caught up on their lives. I am a busy girl, why would I set aside an hour, or more, to "catch up" with someone when I can just as easily check Facebook, read of few of their posts and know exactly what's going on in their lives in a matter of minutes?

Some may say it is helpful to be able to see that someone is going through a rough time or hurting in some way and be able to encourage them. But I think the consequences outweigh the benefits in this situation. Because if you spend time with them you will hear the pain and see the struggle first hand and be able to show them love right then.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy Facebook. I like knowing what my friends are up to and seeing their pictures and clever status updates. I just know that I need to spend more actual time with the people that I love. I think about it this way sometimes: I could sit at work and read status upon status and see pictures and clever little things on Facebook from someone that I haven't talked to in a decade and don't intend to any time soon, or I could get to know the people that have cubicles near mine. I know sadly very little about my coworkers. Or I could talk to the people around me instead of checking my phone while at dinner with a group of friends.

Here is my challenge to myself, and to you if you're interested: take time every day and really catch up with someone you love. Give them a call or even a text can do the trick to remind them how much you value them.

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