Friday, April 9, 2010

Social Networking...isn't.

So something that occurred to me in earnest recently was the understanding that for all this connectivity we have and claim to have on the internet and via various social networking sites, we haven't really actually connected with anybody.

This has hit home a little more with the social flutter resulting from my upcoming 20 year high school reunion.  The ol' popular kids are raising a fuss on Facebook trying to get people together and it has brought a lot of people out of the woodwork.  

But really, when it comes to the day to day, while I have quite a significant "friend" list on Facebook, I interact with most of them infrequently or never.  The "connections" are superficial at best.  And yet I pursue them.  And I'm sure others pursue connections to people they once knew.  

Speaking for myself, I think it comes down to wanting to reconnect to something I once had with this person before I lost touch with them, but doing so without the legwork of really reconnecting.  Facebook creates the illusion that they are in my life again and that I can keep up with them and what they are doing.  We read it, we comment sometimes, invite each other to groups and games, and that's the extent of it.

And sure, commenting and posting are part of the process, but how often do we post something, have nobody comment on it electronically, only to wonder if anybody ever read it or noticed?

Not to say that posting is only about social recognition and/or interaction, but at the same time, it leaves you wondering why you'd bother if you aren't getting some kind of feedback.

What becomes more interesting is when you talk to someone out of that context and they mention offhandedly that they really enjoyed what you posted.  And you feel a moment's frustration that you're only hearing about it now instead of having had a nice comment to your post.  The nerve that you'd actually prefer them to play the social networking game rather than interact with you on a personal level.  :-)

It can really mess up your priorities.  

Now I realize some people are very picky about who they include in their online social circles, and accordingly, I presume they make their interactions more meaningful.  But I know there are also people who collect friends like a boy scout collecting merit badges: friend added and never to be spoken with again.  And I just don't see the point.

I have a hard enough time committing to keeping up with what I have, much less thinking I need more.

But I think at least for me, I will be making an effort, starting now, to reach out and really make an effort to connect to people I consider "friends".  And if for some reason I don't feel up to it, or have reservations somewhere along the way, then I think it will be time to re-evaluate my priorities.. and maybe rethink my concept of "friends".

Life's too short for just comments.