Today I received my umpteenth chastisement for refusing to participate in the phenomenon of social networking. I actually have lost touch in the past couple of years with friends who don't want to email even a few sentences to me personally. They prefer to post little tidbits of information daily on their social networking sites, and woe to anyone who refuses to participate and demands at least a tiny bit more intimate communications contact than is available through these sites where many other people can read what my friends and I post to each other.
I realize that this is a great way to communicate information to a lot of people in a quick and easy way. Of course I see the reasoning behind the sites and know that good things can come of them. Musicians and artists can post information about upcoming gigs and shows, cheaply en masse. For businesses it is a wonderful way of disseminating needed information to co-workers and clients. I know that through these sites friendships, on some level, have even been re-established after years of absence. Large families can quickly send emergency information out to everyone at once.
But the whole thing is not for me.
I have been harbouring a bit of a secret about social networking, and that is that I did sign up for one of the sites a couple of years ago. The instructions on how to become a member and get set up were very clear and I followed the instructions to the letter........however I certainly did something wrong in the process: the site picked up every email address in our computer files, including my husband's ministry contacts. Over the first few days of my being a member I received quite a few postings on my page from Bishops and Arch Deacons and other church leaders from all over Canada who I do not personally know and who have never heard of me in their lives. These dear souls asked me so kindly if they knew me from somewhere and wondered why, since they did not have any memory of me, I was asking to be their social networking friend.
The definition of "fool" is someone who has managed to unwittingly ask complete strangers to be on their friends list for one of these sites. As if the idea of asking people I actually do know if they will be my social networking site friends is not childish, whiny and embarrassing enough, how much more embarrassing is it to be asking people I have never met in my life? And how much even more embarrassing is it to have to admit I didn't know I had asked them???
After a humiliating week of this, I got it straightened out and received at least some positive responses to my snivelling requests to be befriended...and by people I actually know! Bingo!!
I started reading eagerly the various pages of comments on their sites, anticipating all manner of wonderful conversations, new contacts, and inspiring ideas. What I actually discovered were hundreds of uninspired, uninformative and downright silly postings.
Post: "I had a good day today".
Responses: "Yeah?" "Good!" "Okay, me too."
Post: "Anyone heard any good jokes lately?"
Responses: "Nope." "Yeah."
Post: "My kid fell in a puddle today and ripped his pants."
Responses: "Mine too!" "Kids do that." " We bought a dog today."
AAARGH!! Most of the comments and responses were so inane that I was sorry I had joined. Of all the posted comments I read, other than a few bits of factual data, for me they mostly fell into one of four categories:
1. Who cares?
2. Why is that anyone's business but your own?
3. Who has duped you into thinking you are a comedian?
4. Who cares?
I lasted about 10 days and then gave it up as a failed experiment. I like my friends to be up close and personal, on the other end of a telephone line, or at the very least able to carry on a decently written conversation via email.
So if you don't communicate with me any more because it takes more than writing a 30 second post on a social networking site to keep in touch with me, all I can say is that true friendships take time, effort and caring to maintain.
Sorry about that........