joy magnetism: Wherefore, human interaction?

@Joymagnetism, now on Instagram!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Wherefore, human interaction?

Magnet #297 - Happy Bunny's It's all about me

Here's a question: Is anyone else feeling like the more socially networked you are, the less you actually talk to your unconnected friends in real life?

I feel like it's actually become harder to keep in touch with those folks who aren't reading your blog, your FaceBook, your MySpace, your Twitter, your LinkedIn, or your messageboard community. So, when someone decides to check in on your life, you're actually taken aback when they don't know what's going on with you.

It's odd, because while you're keeping in touch with your online contacts, it's the ones in your real life, those who aren't connected, or who just don't keep up, who are left behind.

Whose fault is it?

On the one hand, with a million SNS outlets acting as an RSS feed to the world, it's much easier to keep tabs on your friends, their whereabouts, what's going on in their lives and their thoughts on daily life and big issues. It gives you a feeling of being connected, of being involved - without really being involved. You can drop in on your friends, and still be able to maintain the cocoon of your life.

On the other hand, if you don't bother to keep up with any of the outlets, and you don't have time to keep in touch, when you do decide to check in on someone else, you find yourself completely out of the loop, without a clue as to what's going on in your friends' lives.

One could argue that pre-SNS, you'd pick up the phone and say hello, what's up? The phone calls would be fewer and far between - and would therefore lead to longer conversations to catch up. Nowadays, it's a quick status or posted item comment, or Wall-to-Wall, or iChat, before you move on with the rest of your day. It seems no one has time for phone calls any more - especially when it's easier to txt or ping someone.

But, if you haven't time for all of the above, where does that leave you? Does the connected friend have the right to be mad if that offline friend doesn't bother to check in on your life? Does the offline friend have the right to be mad if the connected friend doesn't feel like catching you up on everything that's going on? Should either friend make the more of an effort to stay in better contact with the other, in the way that they're accustomed to?

It's probably a bit of all of the above, I'm sure. But it's food for thought anyway.

How funny (and timely) is this. A friend of mine passed along a PEW Internet & American Life Project report on "The Future of the Internet." Among their key findings:
  • the mobile device will be the primary connection tool globally by 2020 (really?);
  • the division of personal and work and physical/VR will be erased for all those connected...and that it might have an impact on basic social relations (yep, already there, methinks).
And, yes, I totally downloaded the 138-page full report, just to see...
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julie said...

ah human interaction. anyone who wants to know what i'm doing can keep up with me through my blog... or facebook. stalk me. just don't talk to me. hahahahahha

i kid, i kid.

joy said...

Hahahaha, word.

Anonymous said...

yeah. and you can't spell magnet without ME.

joy said...

Very true, anon. And, as the magnet says, it's all about ME, ME, ME.



TonyP said...

Great topic! I was just thinking about this.

I recently connected with a friend that I hadn’t seen or heard from in over 20 years.
He recently joined Facebook, which is how I found him, but FB and email is about as connected as he gets. After a few emails back and forth we got together for a few drinks and had a great night of reliving our misspent youth. Since that night we’ve talked together on the phone at least a half dozen times. I was actually shocked the first time he called, and after we hung up I realized how much I enjoyed the conversation!

How great it was to not be limited to 140 characters, to hear someone laugh instead of LOL and to tell someone was smiling without getting a emoticon.

I began to realize how long it was since I had a “conversation” with my connected friends. With everyone going a 100 mph what else can you expect but an OMG. LOL and TTYL .

Don’t get me wrong, I think being connected is a great way to locate people, know where they are, say a quick hello, and fill them in on the drama of the day.

But when possible, take it that step further, make it personal, and keep it REAL!
You’ll be surprised how much you’ll enjoy it!

joy said...

TP, what great comments - thanks!

It's true, I think over the next several years people will find it harder and harder to get together OTP or in person to just sit and TALK.

But that's half the fun - the catching up on each other's lives, and perhaps learning something new.