Sunday, February 1, 2015
A colleague and I recently discussed how folks these days have little to actually talk about in person due to social media. She didn't have to tell me about her Christmas, nor did I need to share about mine. Thanks to Facebook, we knew the holiday score and in one regard it was fine - we could get down to business fairly quickly. On the other hand, we missed the social element that once-upon-a-time prefaced 'getting down to work'.
I took that encounter to heart, and have tried to be super-mindful of what I throw out into the cosmos via the Internet. I never felt the need to post the minutia of each moment, and I certainly never posted anything heavy or personal. I've always tried to keep it light in the hopes that my reported deeds and misdeeds might make someone smile.
Social media is a wonderful tool for staying in touch with far-away family and friends. It's also a great method to 'meet' and 'interact' with like-minded souls. Too many of us misuse it, however; when we're more concerned with impressing the masses rather than those living within our homes, then we've got a problem.
We live in the age of Too Much Information, and I wonder if the overload has gone so far overboard that we can no longer discern fact from fiction.
I also wonder how much of that TMI energy we're absorbing simply by default. Got five minutes to spare? Check Facebook. Then log on to Twitter. Then visit Instagram. That five minutes turns into a good solid hour, and then where are you? Behind in your work; behind in your being. I know, for I've been guilty of it far too many times.
Off course, we should take note of the fact that social MEdia sites are rife with narcissists, sociopaths, and your basic run-of-the-mill attention whores. These folks have no interest in real connections. They're more concerned with reaching a certain number of 'likes'. One connection I had went so far as to create fake profiles for a cast of characters with whom he 'interacted' - everything from fake personal assistants to fake family members, which then led to fake enlightenment and fake excitement. His desperate attempts at presenting himself as a raconteur fell flat rather quickly. The fewer responses he got, the more outlandish his posts became.
I ended up deleting him from my online world. I 'd never met him in person, and couldn't quite recall how we connected in the first place.
There is no shame in living a life that's real. And undocumented.
This leads us back to the original point: have we lost the art of conversation? Real conversation - the equal exchange of give-and-take. Listening more while speaking less. I once clocked someone in at 43 minutes before he even asked, 'And how are you?' It's probably my own fault; I've never been much of a talker and I'm terribly private. Still, it's always nice to be asked.
If, like me, you're desirous of changing your social media habits, why not give the following a try:
1. Logging on only once or twice a day; posting even less.
2. Deleting or blocking the narcissists and Debbie Downers (I conducted a 'blocking ceremony' a couple of days ago, and it certainly felt good).
3. Post only the positive. If it will make someone smile, laugh, or think, you're good to go.
4. Share links to art, music, and the written word, not the latest horror from the news.
5. Live honestly and simply, and relay your life as such.
6. If it's not someone you'd want to chat with over a glass of wine, don't connect with him online.
Just like everything else in life, finesse and balance in our social media habits are important. Our real and online interactions have the power to make or break someone's day. Utilize your networks wisely, but more importantly, utilize your time with the person standing two feet away from you wisely, too. Ask, listen, and reciprocate - quite easy, once we put it back into practice.