Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Connected....but Not Really Community?
Caption: Found this picture online and couldn't resist.
Today is Tuesday....so, today is a #letsblogoff day! Basically, several Twitter users have decided that it would be fun to bounce a random topic around via their social media worlds. I have found this to be a very interesting experience, not to mention a great way to get me writing again. Here's my official badge for the day (to show my inclusion). You can follow the other blogs by visiting www.letsblogoff.com SIDENOTE: I have not edited this post, as I feel it brings out the "realness" of it all that way...sorry if I've rambled.
The question at hand today? Do social sites like Facebook connect the world or isolate people?
Hmmm...there is a part of me that says Facebook is definitely connecting the world. Because, well, sure - it is! Facebook and other social media sites are allowing people that don't normally get to see others a way to communicate, to chat, to share things about themselves. For me, I get to see a few of my family members about every 2 to 3 years in person (yes, sad, I know, but life gets busy). Via Facebook, I have been able to view pictures of aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. My Grandma even got to see pictures of my kids and family while visiting my aunts house. I've been able to chat and connect with a few people that I've lost touch with. I've been able to stay in touch with the group of middle school girls that I lead at church. Awesome, right? Yes. It is awesome to be able to have that sort of technology.
Take Twitter, for example. I consider Twitter a notch up from Facebook as far as social media goes. This is the most real time thing I've ever seen. I've been able to connect with people I would have never had the opportunity to chat with, share information with, and joke with. It is really a cool thing (even though my husband ribs me constantly with the sophmoric nature of it all...he doesn't get it).
Here's where it is time to roll up my sleeves and bring out my inner insecurities to explain why Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites are not the end all and can honestly end up isolating someone:
I tend to appear to be a very outgoing person...I love to chat and hang out with people (thus why the real time nature of Twitter is so fun). Once I meet someone, I'm usually fine hanging out with them and building great community with them. I love to ask how people are and check in on them. BUT...(yes, you had to know there was going to be a but)...
I am a horrible introvert at the same time. I hate eating at restaurants alone. I almost always refuse to walk into somewhere by myself unless I know there are people I know there. I prefer to stay at home and watch a movie, rather than go out to eat where there are crowds of people. Are you getting the idea here or should I go on?
I can't explain why I'm this way, but I do realize that social media allows me to stay this way. For the most part, I do not friend someone on Facebook unless I've met them...why would I really want to? And yes, I have had the opportunity to meet a few of the Twitter folk that I follow...usually by accident. Each time I get a chance to meet one of my fellow Tweeters, I always feel a bit awkward. I have absolutely no idea why...ok, maybe I do. Could it be that it is easier to hide behind an avatar? Could it be that my high school insecurities come raging to the surface? Ummm...yeah. I think that's it in a huge nutshell. Really...I write much better than I formulate words. When I talk, I tend to trip over my tongue and have them looking quite confused. What if they think I'm an idiot? What if they stop following me after they meet me because they really see how much of a dork I am? Can I handle that? Each time I've actually gotten the courage to walk up to someone and say something to the effect of "Hey! Are you @____? I'm Splintergirl!" I've been proud of myself and happy that I did. But intially, I do tend to hide behind the avatar - not really knowing how to make the leap between virtual and actual.
So, I find timing hysterical sometimes. I actually had the opportunity to meet several local Twitter folk last Saturday evening. My husband and I were at a local resaturant. When we walked in, I recognized immediately @charleski. I said nothing, knowing that she'd never recognize the ponytailed, hatted avatar based upon the dressed up me. As we were waiting, @adamhann, @primaljeff, and another person from our church walked and sat down. Again, I squirmed. They all knew each other and work together at our church. They were having a spirited conversation. And...I said nothing. How do you stumble in on that conversation without feeling odd? Are you seeing a pattern here? To further add conviction, @mspiker and his wife @OTgremlin walked in. I have actually MET @OTgremlin and serve on a tech team with her. I actually did wave at her...whew, at least I tried, right? Then @mspiker came up with @JenniferSayer to say hi to the other folks sitting next to us...yes, right next to us. I again (yup you guessed it) said nothing. Can anyone say LOSER?
What was I thinking? I wouldn't be surprised if they all stopped following me on Twitter to be honest. Because I've essentially isolated myself, right? If they are good enough to chat with on Twitter, why did I find myself unable to introduce myself? Ahh...yes, see above fears already noted. To all of the above Lancaster people listed: my sincerest apolgoies and hope that you will offer grace. I promise to introduce myself next time with "Hi. My name is Amy Good."
So, do social media outlets connect the world? Of course they do. They make follow up with people easy and they allow for you to brighten someone's day with a kind word or two at just the right moment. Are they an end all? NO! Without face to face interaction, they are still just virtual and not real...not really. By that I mean, one's life cannot solely consist of friends in the viral world. You cannot hide behind a computer for all of your life...that would be isolation. You, as with everything in life, must have a decent balance. Some social media and some real world. Some virtual hugs and some real world hugs. Personally, I thrive on the real world ones.
So what do you think?