So I’m reading in the news that something like 80 percent of us use “social media” here in America these days. I do it; I Faceplace and Twit with the best of them. And on the whole, I think the whole thing’s pretty smooth. Keeping in touch with far-away friends, getting the latest news…the whole Arab Spring revolutions could not have taken place without the internet, for example. All hail the power of the interwebs, right?
But then I’m scrolling though my Facebook postings this week. And in between posts about the local Harley shop (I’m saving up; see previous posts referencing my raging mid-life crisis) and updates about the fourth season of Sons of Anarchy (I’m obsessed; that’s for another post), I see a status change from my brother:
“Joe Schmoe” (names have been changed to protect the blogged-about) “has changed his status from ‘married’ to ‘single’.”
SAY WHAT? Okay…
This post is followed by comments from my sister-in-law (do they become “out-laws” after the divorce?) about how it’s an amicable split, they will always be friends, and some other astonishing posts. Complete with photos. And I’m all: Do I press the “like” button on this? There’s no “appalled” button on Facebook, it turns out.
Now, I didn’t think I was a curmudgeon. And maybe I am insane to say this, but why would anyone want to break this kind of information on a social media site as opposed to sharing the news in a more personal and private way? My brother is 10 years younger than me, but still. Is this how the young people do stuff these days? Maybe I’m just having one of those “get off my lawn” kind of moments.
Perhaps I’m asking too much. Maybe it is terribly old fashioned to actually speak to people any more. Even when I’m out with the girls, everyone’s got their smart phones out updating their status and posting photos and showing each other links and photos online. Am I awfully out of touch that I would just like to talk at your face?
I’m not sure too much of a good thing isn’t turning us into a nation of the emotionally retarded. Our IQs may or may not be slipping as a nation, but I swear we’re shaving points off our EQ, our emotional quotient, by the hour. The art of conversation has deteriorated to the point that I’ve got 140 characters before I lose your attention. The fact you’ve read this post this far clearly indicates you’re above average.
And I’m not even getting into the scary, anonymous part of social media. On Twitter, almost no one uses their actual identifying information, and that enables what people call “trolls.” Hate and vitriol flows freely, because no one can be held accountable for what they say. Like the road-rager who feels protected by the interior of his car, the internet troll hides behind some inane handle like @twinkiebutt077 and says things they would never have the nerve to say to someone’s face on account of the throat-punching that would inevitably follow.
So here’s the challenge: Y’all get in touch with your inner human today. OH YEAH I FORGOT YOU’RE ALL HUMAN. Have you forgotten it? Have a conversation with another human today. You know. All those other warm bodies staring at their phones too. With your voice. Remember eye contact? Sigh. Those were the good old days. If I get a smile AND eye contact, I might just pass out. I miss the days of verbal status checks.
If you can say it in person, do that. We are not the Borg, people. Let’s rejoin humanity. If you can call instead of text, DO THAT. Walk down the hall instead of writing that email. I know! Real live people can be scary. But I know we have it in us to like a few without having to be in front of a screen to press a button on Facebook to do so.
Technology is great. But a laptop or your smart phone? It won’t hug you back.
Eliska Counce’s Momma Drama column is published Saturdays on TSB.