Thursday, January 22, 2015

Not so Social Media

Have you seen the movie "The Interns" with Owen Wilson & Vince Vaughn where they become interns at Google.  There is a scene in the movie where Owen Wilson's character literally forces a young computer geek to stop looking at his phone and lift his head to look at a beautiful girl right in front of his face.  He asks the young man, "I'm begging you, lift you head just 3 inches".  It creates a funny scene in the movie, but sadly this kind of thing happens all of the time.  You've seen it when you go out, people with their noses stuck in their phone or tablet and missing everything that is happening around them.  My husband and I went out to lunch not long ago and we watched as a family of four sat in the booth across from us.  Each of the members of the family had their eyes down, staring into a phone, tablet or electronic game and no one said a single word to each other. It was incredibly sad to watch.  I'm sure that family could 'post' about going out to eat together on their various media, but there was nothing 'together' about that meal.  

Being connected on social media is often anything but social.  Not too long ago there was a fantastic video that was ironically being circulated on social media, imploring people to put down their electronic devices and "Look Up" (Look Up YouTube video.  Everyone can recall a situation where someone we were with had their head in their phone and missed something important right in front of them.  

Electronics have brought so many incredible advantages to our lives.  I love having a GPS on my phone to instantly help me find where I am going, or being able to check my bank balance before making a purchase.  For younger generations, electronics have been a way of life.  As part of the older 'boomer' generation, I was not raised with computers, internet, smart phones and social media, yet I still catch myself being distracted by my electronics when I should be focused on being present for whatever I am doing at the moment.   

I enjoy catching up with friends on Facebook, and as an author, social media provides a valuable resource for promoting my work, but I have also seen friends and family members who share too much on social media, I have witnessed people sitting at family dinners, football games, parades, concerts and even weddings with their noses in their phone, missing everything around them.  Social media can be a fun way to connect with friends, but it will never be a substitute for actually being there.  

I had the great pleasure recently to spend the afternoon with one of my best friends.  We don't see each other often, so we make the most of each visit.  We go out and get a good meal and a fun drink or two and then usually find time to go shopping. We gab with each other and catch up on life, and not surprising, there are no phones in sight (except of course when we show recent family pictures to each other).  I don't mind being called old school for the belief that being really social means being face to face with people that you care about.  No matter how many status updates she and I post, it is not the same as a hug and an afternoon of talking.  140 characters on Twitter won't cut it as we catch up on each other's lives.  There is nothing wrong with a post or a tweet, but remember to put the phone down and look up sometimes too.  

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