Social Networking - - - - -> Social Isolation?

We currently live in the era of 'information overload'. If I have a friend (we'll call him Steve), of course I can meet him for coffee, but I can also text him, e-mail him, chat with him via instant messaging, follow his posts on facebook, twitter and maybe a blog, talk over skype, I'm sure there are some things I am forgetting... and of course the 'classic' means of communication, telephone and mail (aka Snail Mail). We have endless ways to be involved in our friends' lives, it's a wonder we haven't discovered how to utilize telepathy just yet!

As depicted in oh-so-many Austenian melodramas, socializing is a crucial aspect of a twenty-something's life. Young people met and networked through dances, picnics, month-long 'visits' to each other's homes, through neighbors, relatives, church, holidays. (At least this is the impression I get... does anyone know if this was at all realistic?)

Now, most of our social interaction is done from behind the safety of our computer screens and/or cell phones. We can have meaningful conversations with multiple people at once. We are rarely without our cell phones or other electronic devices. Despite all these methods of staying connected, how much of this social time is actually spent WITH people?

How do we meet new people? Now, it's often online, through sites specifically for social interaction- Facebook, MySpace, trillions of dating sites. Though there are all these outlets at our disposal, it seems rather pathetic to me- if humans are by nature social creatures, why do we spend so much time alone, making virtual friends?

I call for a return to real socializing. I may be considered a freak. Frankly, I don't care. I pledge: to call instead of texting, to visit instead of calling if possible. To initiate conversation with random strangers, and that cute guy at the coffee shop instead of staring at my laptop screen and then wondering why I can't meet anyone. To utilize Facebook, etc. as a means to facilitate connection, rather then to maintain it. To get off the computer and LIVE a little more. Who is with me!?

Oh, btw, excellent reading... "Life is Friends: A Complete Guide to the Lost Art of Connecting in Person" by Jeanne Martinet. Check it out. (but you don't have to take my word for it!)

1 comment:

  1. Though I am certainly not an expert, I believe Austen's social descriptions were pretty accurate for her class. Of course, things were entirely different if you were poor, but then isn't that always the case?