I’m a happy subscriber to Matthew Wayne Selznick’s news email (something you can do here)and he asked a pertinent question and one I’ve thought about more than once over the last several years. “Does Social Media Make Us Socially Lazy?” In it, he talked about meeting old friends for the first time in a long time and about a Facebook only friend that he met face to face to the first time. His takeaway was, that in his case at least, social media has become a sort of substitute for face to face meetings. It’s easier to “keep in touch” via social media and while that can be good it also rapidly becomes a very surface relationship.
I don’t entirely agree. I credit social media for several friendships that are at varying degrees of depth. Were it not for blogging, Twitter, Facebook, and other outlets I wouldn’t have those friends at all. They’ve all added to the richness of my life and I’m thankful. I’ve kept in touch with those friends over the years and in spite of the miles that separate us, I know what it going on in their lives and they know what’s going on in mine.
Here’s where I agree quite a bit, while I might not have had those friendships, prior to social media if I wanted to keep in contact with someone I would email, call, or *gasp* actually meet with them face to face. I don’t call my own mother nearly often enough and have instead gotten her to join Facebook. Now that I have the “easy way” I often don’t take any way but that.
I moved recently and during that process I uncovered some letters written to a college chum. I cherish those letters. You know the last time I wrote a physical letter? I’ll give you a hint, it predates most social media outlets. Hmmm.
One of the takeaway from this conversation that Matt had with his friends was that they would do better at keeping in touch on a deeper level. He doubts his own ability to make that happen. I’m in his camp. I’ve been doing this so long that I doubt my own ability to break out of the habit of taking the easy road. But, anything worth doing is rarely easy.
What do you think? How has social media affected you and your relationships?