Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Social Networking v. Social Networking

Take a moment, if you like, and think back to a simpler time. No, not stories of your grandfather's cotton gin or stoking the fire in a secluded log cabin in the woods, but a time still somewhat recognizable from our current technologically-dependent day.

When I say the phrase "social networking", what comes to mind? You're probably thinking about those websites we all visit much too often, like Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, the now-deceased Myspace, etcetera. It's not really your fault, kids, that's just the way you were conditioned by others like yourselves.

I looked out the window of my room the other day, onto my considerably suburban street. I was reminded of when I was much younger, and all the kids would go outside to play after school. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't a life changing experience fraught with the most fun I've ever had, but it was how we socially networked back in the day.

And for people in generations older than my own, there was meeting people in real life, going to box socials (or what-have-you), being sociable in actual, face-to-face methods, hanging out the old-fashioned way. We still have these methods today, but they seem almost a dying art to me. Even when I want to hang out with friends, we often end up using Facebook or some other technology to include others into the social event of the day.

There is definitely something to be said of the value of communicating face-to-face. I find technology very impersonal and a crude way to convey emotion and feeling. Here I am, telling you about my experiences and opinions, and what kind of message are you absorbing in the cold light of a computer screen? Blogs are good because they are accessible by many people all over the world, but what if I wanted my opinions and writings to be seen by a select few? Wouldn't that make the message all the more pertinent than being in a public forum for every Joe Schmoe to see?

I think it's time that everyone (or at least myself, for a start) make a conscious decision to enjoy the finer aspects of face-to-face social networking. Go outside, feel the warm sun on your face, and have a chat with your neighbour. Don't search your facebook friends for someone who absent-mindedly clicked "like" on the topic of pets. Go walk your dog, iguana, or mutant space rat and meet someone else who loves pets.

This, children, is the lost art of the real social networking.

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