I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how many people the average person “knows” in the digital age. This post is not really so much an opinion as it is a question posed to everyone who makes use of social media, be that blogging, Facebook, Twitter, or the various other platforms out there. Do you think that we are more social or less social than we used to be thanks to technology?
What does the word social really mean? You can find plenty of definitions for it in the dictionary and plenty of different forms. The one we will use here comes from the Mirriam-Webster Dictionary. so•cial /adjective:
2. Marked by or passed in pleasant companionship with friends or associates. <An active social life>
I have met some of my very best friends (and Julian, sweet Englishman that he is) through blogging. I know these people now as “real people” who are much more than just a face on a website. I have spoken with many of them, met with some of them, sent gifts and cards back and forth and come to rely on our friendship. Still, for as many people as I interact with outside the social media outlets, there are thousands that I am “friends” with that I likely wouldn’t know if they sat beside me on a train for a 12 hour trip. I guess what I am trying to say, is that even though I am grateful for the people I have met over the internet, I feel a certain loss when it comes to my good English manners. When I log onto Facebook, I am in my pajamas. I would never answer the door that way if I invited you to come to tea. Here are some other things:
Differences between social media and social gatherings in the real world:
I shut off my phone, tablet or computer when I get sick of you.
I don’t make any effort to be pretty when texting you.
I don’t serve you any food or have to clean up after you.
My dogs don’t go mad and bark when you visit on my computer.
I can pretend not to be home that day and you don’t see me peeking out the drapes.
My children don’t have to behave in the background.
Your children didn’t just break something I value.
My pot belly is not showing and I can shove further peanut butter cups into my mouth without judgment.
So what is the problem? This all sounds great!
I find that I am more consciously nervous in social situations where I cannot hide behind my computer. Does this happen to you too? I have never been comfortable in entire rooms full of people, be they strangers or not, sadly, it is part of my job to do this, thankfully infrequently. Still, I wonder if social media is partially to blame for my lack of outgoing personality now that I have grown so used to the comfort of plug and play friendships.
Also, I feel a loss at not welcoming guests with a specially prepared treat that is their favourite thing, or just seeing the smile and sharing the laughter that goes along with a face-to-not-Facebook visit.
I would love opinions here, if anyone would like to give one.