Social networking is alive and well by all accounts. The internet is like one big bee hive a-buzz with activity. And everyone, it seems, is joined at the ear with a cell phone. I personally love the openness and the ability to circulate at many different levels… the opportunities to learn and explore all corners of this planet while enjoying a latte here in my home office.
Each one of us has a different agenda when using the internet. And there certainly is a place for cell phones. Some do all their work on the internet and cell phones. Some have all their fun on them. And others just simply live there.
Whatever. It's all good if it fills a need in our lives. But, I do think there's a downside.
The 20-30-somethings are having one heck of a time meeting and mating. Serious workers seeking jobs are getting lost in databases. Meanwhile, people at the grocery stores are losing the social graces needed to communicate with each other like civil human beings. It never ceases to amaze me how people can carry on conversations while making purchases rather than attending to the task at hand and then complain that the computers take too long to complete credit card transactions.
When TV was in its hey day, we learned we could – even if for just a little while – be something other than who we really were. Sitcoms and movies allowed us to emotionally put ourselves into an alternate world. We could experience in some measure what it was like to be a cowboy in the wild and wooly west or one of the international rich and famous. We didn't need to experience any of the nitty gritty of their lives, just the best of their world. We didn't have to invest any effort into the mix… just sit back and "be there".
Even then, we had a craving to "be" with real people and to talk with them. So, we still participated in some amount of face-to-face interaction with people around us. Social etiquette was still called for in every-day life.
Now technology has taken us to the next level. It's opened the door to the possibility of interacting with each other without ever meeting in person if we so choose. We can create our own persona – real or imagined – and interact with each other without concern for graciousness or relationship building if we choose. Where sound bytes were the domain of marketers and media, now they've become our normal speech pattern.
Dating, for example. Who would have thought? To meet someone, you simply go to a dating website – put in your profile (what you want the prospective match to believe about you) – the hopeful mate is expected to read your profile and, decide based on that, that you're the answer to their prayers.
OK, so far, assuming that the profile is honest and complete. But even if it is, what happened to the ability to grow a relationship? Two people decide that each is the perfect match and it's worth their time to meet in person. If, God forbid, when they finally meet, they discover that the person they thought they were getting to know online just doesn't fit the profile or their dream? Disappointment is bad enough but even if there is some level of compatibility, there's no reason to work at building on what's there….it's so much easier to go back and find that dream person that really doesn't exist — but might.
It's not that different in the job market.
It's a sure thing that we're all in too much of a hurry. Hurry up and wait has been our mantra from at least the 80's but now we've reached the point where we expect instantaneous gratification
Somehow we're forgetting that it takes time to build relationships and there's not a person alive that fits perfectly the dream. Long-term relationships take compromise and constant communication and growing together from where we are to where we hope to be together. Work is not the finished product. It's real people putting forth the effort needed to get there.
Social networking is great! I love it! But what happened to talking in real time to the people in front of us? To "getting to know you"? To accepting that the person in front of you isn't perfect? To recognizing that we, certainly, aren't perfect either? And that's ok.