Monday, January 16, 2012
Lost art of communication
I've practically given up Facebook. It's beginning to make me sick. Let me explain ...
My sister sent me a text message and asked me to join her for lunch. While sitting at Bob Evans waiting on our food, my niece mentioned that she got a new cat. I asked what their two chihuahuas thought of the addition, to which my sister replied, "Well, there's only one now." Confused, I asked her what happened. She explained her youngest, a male named Moses, died two weeks before. Knowing how much she loves her animals, I told her that I wished I had known. She replied matter-of-factly, "Well you commented on it on Facebook."
A long pause ensued while I stopped and searched my memory. For the life of me I couldn't recall reading a post about her dog dying. Wouldn't I have remembered that, especially if I commented on it? So I asked her how I missed it. She told me her post said, "This isn't the way I wanted to start my new year." Apparently, I was supposed to gleam a dog died out of that.
This isn't a "pick-on-my-sister" post. I can do that without a blog. This is a "what-has-happened-to-communication" post. My sister is just one example of many, and I know she's used to me picking on her, so she won't mind.
So what's my problem?
We've forgotten how to communicate. We think that we can post stuff on Facebook, and that's good enough. Everyone will see it.
"My Dad is sick. Prayers needed." 144 posts follow.
"Baby Lola has arrived!" 123 posts follow. Baby Lola's picture arrives 15 seconds later. Another 123 posts that say, "cute," over and over again.
"It's Steve's birthday. Wish him a happy birthday." No thanks. I like Steve, but if it weren't for Facebook, I wouldn't know his birthday. Now, when it's Susie's birthday, she's a good enough friend that I don't need Facebook to remind me, so I send her a card or at least a text message to wish her well.
I'm sick of the posts about your dinner. I don't care if you're making "chicken and dumplings. Yum!" Congratulations that your daughters made straight A's. I don't care that you're rooting for Tim Tebow, and not all that interested that the eighth-grade girls are playing basketball again tonight. Facebook has turned into our only mode of communication. We post everything from random rants to anonymous people to our most intimate details. We sell everything from cars to Girl Scout cookies. We send invitations through Facebook and post music videos that no one else cares about. In essence, we crave the attention of 950 of our closest friends.
We are more connected than ever, yet farther apart than we've ever been.
We sit across the table from each other in a restaurant and text other people. We check Facebook 100 times a day from our smart phones. We post pictures and videos of everything, especially things we shouldn't. We pray via blogs and social networking, as if God has a username and profile.
Yet, we don't have a genuine talk with our closest friends for months at a time.
There is something seriously wrong with this picture, and I wonder where it's leading us.
I hear people lament about how Mitchell is heading in the wrong direction. But if your only involvement with the community is through Facebook and the "online community" is the only one you relate to, what do you expect?
In this day and age, I'm beginning to think of text messages as a personal form of communication because it's directed strictly at me and not posted on Facebook for 1,000 of our "closest" friends to see.
It bothers me that I have friends who are only my friends on Facebook. It bothers me that I feel like I need to keep my Facebook account active because I have friends I would never see or hear from if it weren't for the site. It truly concerns me that sometimes the only way I can find people is through Facebook.
So, for the most part, I quit. I'll continue to check for messages, mostly for work purposes, but no more news feed or status updates. Part of my revolt against social networking and the fact that it is seemingly taking over our lives is that I'm going to start sending cards, the paper kind, and for no darn good reason.
Call me crazy, but I still think personal communication is important. I want to sit on my friend's front porch and chat. I don't want a computer to remind me it's your birthday, and if your mother died, I expect a phone call. There are just some things I'm not willing to give up, but Facebook isn't one of them.