Yesterday afternoon, my phone rang. Caller ID indicated that it was a good friend of mine who lives in the South and just welcomed her third child a couple of weeks ago. I almost let the call go to voicemail as I do so often with incoming calls. Though busy bonding with Toddler during Baby's nap time, I picked up.
I am so glad I did.
My friend and I ended up talking for a long time. Almost an hour, I think. She told me all about her delivery and her family and her new life as a mom of three kids. She told me about the big storm that just mangled the back of her home. I told her about our new place, about how we are getting more and more settled here, about how the kids and cats are in heaven. We joked about that long ago time when we were big firm lawyers and about the present day when we often spend long minutes wrestling with the sundry parts of sippy cups. (Where do all those missing parts go?)
When I hung up the phone, I felt a swell of something. Of happiness. Of friendship. Of connection.
I do not get this feeling when I hit send on an email. I do not get this feeling when I update my Facebook status. Or float a tweet into the ether.
Yesterday, I professed my love for Facebook and my respect for the unprecedented phenomena of modern social media. My opinions have not changed overnight; I continue to believe there is an immense, if inscrutable, power inherent in the technological tools (blogging, FB, Twitter, etc) that so many of us have come to embrace.
I realized something yesterday in the quiet moments after my call with my friend. I realized that as we dive further into this world of buttons and screens and soundbites, we really are missing out. On faces and voices and moving lips and rumbling laughter. On the stories that come in bits and pieces, without grace perhaps, over the phone line or in person. Stories that cannot (and perhaps should not) be edited for their content and grammar. We are missing out on the organic interpersonal stuff that used to me the norm.
This is not all about social media. I have never really been much of a phone person. I remember my school days and being amazed that my friends logged so many hours chit-chatting on the phone. Perhaps this is a hereditary thing? Dad was never big on the phone and the master of the two minute call that ended with his endearing and sing-song, Morn morn.
Maybe this is just me?
(I don't think so.)
I worry that the advent and experience of social media, the ubiquity of text messaging and email exchanges, is allowing me - and so many of us - to hide behind the screen and the words we weave. I worry that, by following the trends of the day, we are compromising our relationships, and with them, ourselves.
I don't know. I don't pretend to know.
But I do know that I am going to make more of an effort to pick up the phone and call the people that matter. I am going to make more of an effort to engage in and indulge in real conversations, the clumsy and exquisite kind that cannot be duplicated online or in print. I am going to make more of an effort to flip this screen shut and get out there into the world and see people. And talk to them. Old school style.
(And then I will of course come here and blog about it.)
- Are you a phone person? Have you always been?
- Has your use of the phone changed with the emergence of email and social media?
- Do you think social media is changing patterns of human connection in a problematic way?
- Do you find yourself writing an email or sending a text instead of picking up the phone because it is "easier"?
- Do you ever worry that if things continue the way they're going our kids will grow up not knowing how to make eye contact or conduct real conversations?
- Do you think there is a way to embrace the technologies of the day while also retaining traditional communication skills?
- Are you too baffled by the mysteries of sippy cups?