Friday, June 18, 2010

Digital Friends - batteries not included

I'm taking an unscheduled break this morning from my usual spellbinding morning routine (laundry, cleaning the bathroom, etc.) to blog about something that struck me as both funny and a stinging social commentary on so many of us.

One my FB friends wrote this as her status update:

"quite likes the way you can 'hide' peoples status reports from your feed so you don't have to read about their riveting lives"

I read that and laughed. Oh yes, I've hidden people's status updates from my feed as well, for various reasons. Generally it's for constant obscenities and profanity. Not all my FB 'friends' are Christians, but they're people I care deeply about so they are on my friends list. You probably have hidden status updates from certain people too... maybe you've even hid mine!

What I found so profound about this comment above is how true it really is.  For some reason there are bazillions of people that honestly think the world wants to know about every single detail of their lives. Like, cleaning the bathroom and doing laundry, and eating a bowl of cereal or walking the cat, or giving the llama a bath.  Okay I'll admit it, if someone had a llama and bathed him, I might find that interesting.  An attached video would be a bonus, but only because it's rather out of the ordinary.

The thing is, so many of the things I see online are just... othersameness.  They're other because it's someone else doing them but they sameness because it's the same stuff we all do everyday.  We all have our coffee, work out (lol, okay, not all of us work out), hate Mondays, walk the dog, go to school, watch movies, go out to dinner, etc.  Reading about other people doing the same thing I'm doing is actually rather boring to me but I have a hunch that maybe part of the reason so many people do it, is because on a deeper level somewhere, they just want someone to know they exist, and care about what they're doing. We are afterall created by God to be social creatures. We thrive on social interaction and we suffer when we're without it. Basic human development 101.

In this weird world we live in, we've exchanged face to face socialization with digital buddies from all around the world, and the thing lacking in that is genuine friendship.  It's sad really, because you can have 500 FB friends (although I'm not sure why you'd want to) but at the end of the day, how many of those people would genuinely be there when the bottom of your world falls out? If your spouse gets sick, you lose your job, the water pipe in the basement breaks, or any one of the bazillion things that could happen where you'd really benefit from a helping hand from a real friend, and maybe even a smile, hug, or a reassuring talk over a cup of coffee in the kitchen? Truth be told, I think we all know it's a tiny fraction (if any at all, really) of those 500 "friends" that would literally be at your door saying "how can I help?"  Granted, some FB users only add people they do know in real life (friends, family, church family, etc.) and for those folks the whole social networking thing is being used in a different and good way.  But that isn't the case for most people online, and genuine friendship is tossed aside in favor of having a gigantic "friends" list. Personally, it bugs the snot out of me that we call total strangers "friends". It blurs the line and now there's a whole new generation of young people that honestly could not give you the real definition of the word.

I want someone to go out on the street and test this theory of mine.  Do an "on the street interview"  (record it on video!) with every person under the age of 20 that walks by, and ask them to define "friend".  I'd bet a 6 pack of cinnabons the vast majority of them would include some kind of reference to people online, whom they've never met, never will meet, and wouldn't even know them if they fell from the sky and landed on their heads. (Caryn, I know you're reading, and I volunteer you for this job. :o)

The reason I found the above status update funny, is because right before I read I posted on twitter:

"Working on 3 diff custom projects today, plus running errands, plus setting up the pool, plus chores around the house, plus coffee. Lots."

I know, earthshattering, isn't it? :o)  The thing is, I know there are 250ish people following me on twitter that honestly don't give a rip about what I'm doing today. Frankly, I don't even know most of the people who follow me. I don't even know why they do, but that's another blog post.  I also know there are a few who do care though, and that tweet was for them. At least that's what I like to believe, but maybe I'm just as guilty as the next person in thinking there are total strangers out there that are itching to know if I'm having coffee today? Well, the answer is "duh, hello?"

I just wonder how deeply we're all affected by the whole digital friend era, without even realizing what we've let ourselves get sucked into? Okay, now it's time to clean the bathroom.

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