It’s about time we took our friendship off facebook

It’s about time we took our friendship off facebook

Social Media | Judette Coward-Puglisi

April 6, 2010

36-year old Sharon Coless  whose way of thinking stretches much further than her 6 foot inch frame allows has been my friend for over 15 years. Recently Sharon had a root canal, felt overjoyed that her child’s grueling exam was behind them and  hired a personal trainer not  to get her already bean pole shape more lean, but because she wanted to be mentally fit to take care of her aging  mom who was  about  move in with her. 

Note to our mutual friends. 


I know all this about Sharon’s life  not because we organised  a tête-à-tête  over coffee, or met accidentally in the of the supermarket aisle and gossiped as we both reached to thai chili tuna  or even for that matter, shared a leisurely Sunday evening telephone call. In fact, I am all caught up with Sharon’s life, well,  because of facebook. For the past few months we’ve  communicated through status updates, tweeted our frustration and joy—in 140 characters or less—via Twitter.


Here’s what’s wrong with  all this though.


Our friendship became less, well, precious. Glimpses of status updates sufficed. Comments on pictures were quick and hurried, not considered.  The like button became a false  symbol of connection.  


Still in the 3 months of following Sharon’s life on facebook, I never picked up the phone to tease her about surviving her son’s  SEAs or to offer a shoulder the first night they brought her mother home and I knew she would be as fearful as a  bird trapped in a cage. Sure, I tweeted a ‘Thinking of You’ notes  but did little else. 


Online social networking was supposed to make us closer. But has it really?


My friend Lisa Maria Alexander would argue no. Last week  she forwarded  an article, ‘The Social  Bubble’ via facebook, In it, Umair Haque,  Director of the Havas Media Lab, suggested that facebook, twitter, foursquare etc creates thin relationships  that are mostly weak,  artificial and are the antithesis of real relationships.  According to Haque:  “Real relationships are patterns of mutual investment. I invest in you, you invest in me. Parents, kids, spouses — all are multiple digit investments, of time, money, knowledge, and attention. The "relationships" at the heart of the social bubble aren’t real because they’re not marked by mutual investment . At most, they’re marked by a tiny chunk of information or attention here or there.”


Lisa and I talked about this at length over the phone. And I, of course, quickly defended the technology.  “Thanks to social networking,” I championed, “ many have gotten back in touch with friends from high school and university, shared old and new photos, and became better acquainted with some people we might never have grown close to offline and ..”


Then I caught myself. Sharon flashed across my mind and  I thought about my soon to be 1,000 friends of facebook and how if I needed a help or was in trouble that I would only call a handful of them.  And so at the end of our conversation I kind of agreed with Lisa-Maria  If we’re not careful, our online interactions can hurt our real-life relationships.


Like many people, I’m experiencing social media  fatigue. The exchange of action for stimulus, action for stimulus can be tiring. I have grown  weary of  friends know who claim they are too busy to pick up the phone, or even write a decent email, yet spend hours on social-media sites, uploading photos of their children or parties, becoming farmers and taking pesky quizzes. 


Time for change.


Recently a group of my friends decided  that to improve our interactions, we needed to change our conduct, not just pretend that they existed. And so led by the adventurous Simone Brown we started meeting at 6:30 am every Saturday morning to hike in the most amazing of locations throughout the country. Our meets serve a several  purposes; it connects us to nature and the great outdoors something which I’ve figured we  were all  longing  for, it gets us moving,  more importantly we spend the hours of the hike talking about life, work, love. 


Fianlly we’ve decided to stop macoing and start connecting. This week I am  calling Sharon with an invitation to join us, it’s  about  time we took our friendship off facebook.





One thought on “It’s about time we took our friendship off facebook

  1. Uh oh! could this be the end of the Soo-shall-mediaaa-gah hype cycle..?? Ah well..nothing like catching up with real friends in person and dipping in and out of FB from time to time. I must say though I lost my FB mojo, and reached my peak of inflated expectations months ago and it’s never been fully restored. Don’t get me wrong I was never a torpor-fugged type. Although I’m always delighted when some old school pal sends through a friends request – the warm feeling of human interconnectedness. ahhhhhhh Speaking of friends I read a report recently by a psychologist who said although the average facebooker has 150 friends they only stay in touch, regularly with 5 of them! uhmmmmm is SM beginning to look a little paper thin.?? I think though there are loads of business vacuums that could be filled with SM, we just need a group of really smart people to come up with really smart social solutions..

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