Fondue, Choucroute, Fromage, etc.

How is your online social life?

Seriously, how are you doing? What are you doing?

Do you have a lot of friends? Do you invest a lot of time building relationships that mean something? Do you invest in relationships with people you actually know? Are you looking for followers or friendships? Are you hiding in the anonymity of being just another name on somebody’s friend list? Do you judge what kind of friend you are by the number of people who follow you on Twitter?

Electronic social media is a wonderful thing – or at least it can be. It can help us reconnect with old friends and classmates. It can make the miles between us seem fewer. We can feel less separate.

Social media is good for

  • Sharing pictures of a child’s graduation or Christmas special
  • Keeping up with what’s going on in the lives of our friends
  • Sharing quotes and cool stuff we’ve found online
  • Giving an “atta-boy” to a friend who is doing well
  • Sending our condolences when things don’t work out
  • Setting up a Christmas party with friends

In short – electronic social media can help us share information – and some of the emotions that go with that.

There are some things social media can’t do

  • Social media will never replace actually showing up for a Christmas party.
  • Sending your condolences isn’t the same as being able to hug a friend who’s going through a rough time, looking them in the eye, and telling them that you care.
  • You’ll never be part of the experiences your friends are writing about if you don’t show up
  • Social media doesn’t teach us how to work through difficulties to preserve a relationship.
  • Tweeting an “atta-boy” isn’t the same as giving a friend a “high-five”.

In a nutshell, electronic social media can enhance our relationships but it will never really replace anything that requires proximity. And we do ourselves a disservice if we think that it can replace real touch, sight, and sound. We end up isolated, eating our microwave dinners alone in a dark room lit only by the glow of a TV or computer screen.

And we never realize how alone we really are because we feel like we’re surrounded by a couple hundred friends we never actually see or share a meal with.

How about you?

When was the last time you shared life with somebody?

What are you going to do about it?
How can you use social media to enhance, rather than replace your real life.

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