September 5th, 2009 by susan

Just as I was writing this I noticed a post in Facebook by Chris Klimas that tells the story perfectly in a visual:


I don’t understand this world where people don’t want to see the trees that make up the forest; where ‘friends’ number in the hundreds or thousands yet have never been touched or held.

It’s a place where we claim unity via communication of typed sentences, often restricted by number of characters such as in twitter, typing into boxes and pressing a ‘submit’ or ‘publish’ key. Where we needn’t ask anyone to even be there, as a face to face or telephone call may require, to communicate because we just throw it out there and let them catch it at will. We don’t know or even care if they do.

Social networking may be the connection of strangers who pretend to be friends for a few minutes as long as the walls of distance are in place. We seem to care more for people in unknown quantities, in unknown quarters: ‘the poor’, ‘the hungry’, ‘the illegal alien’, ‘the oppressed’, ‘the elderly’, rather than any specific, touchable, reachable neighbor or friend. The whole rather than the individual. Which sounds terrifically magnanimous but at the same time terribly empty. Something rings hollow, false. It’s a juxtaposition of intimacy and distance in space. Even as we widen our circle of communication, we seem to accept less intimacy as we draw our own walls, presenting our lives in limited blocks of text.

This also on today’s ‘twitter’ news from and article on Networking Etiquette at USA Today : “After all, the average person has 120 “friends” on Facebook, according to the company. In real life, the average North American has about three very close friends and 20 people they are pretty close to, said Barry Wellman, a sociologist at the University of Toronto.”

This whole topic fascinates me and I take it personally; I’ve always been better at writing than face to face verbal communication and yet, why does this new approach bother me when I should be reveling in the idea that my time has finally come?

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