A few months back, I erased both my facebook and myspace accounts. I have to admit, it was hard for me…a person of my generation…a generation that has known computers all its life and has owned cell phones for all the years its social life has mattered. Nevertheless, my generation has also mourned the disappearance of payphones and impromptu visits from friends who just happened to be in the neighborhood.
Something is going awry. Digital social networks like those I’ve mentioned above are not supplementing or supporting relationships; they are seemingly breaking down the human component. The component that allows you, for instance, to embrace with fervor someone you haven’t seen in some time.
Human contact, human touch: oh man I missed your voice, how have you been, oh we have to catch up over lunch sometime. Isn’t this still important? Isn’t this still a vital part of being humans with emotions, traits, souls? Apparently, the creators of such networks would answer affirmatively. They have made it possible for you not only to hug your friend, but also kick them in the ass if necessary. So, all the actions of real human interactions and relationships are “seemingly” possible via these networks. But, honestly, I’d rather any friend of mine to touch my shoulder, embrace me, kiss my cheek (or lips) so that my body can actually sense it. Isn’t that still a critical part of the human experience?
It’s no wonder that many in and after my generation are seriously lacking in social skills, in building real relationships. It’s as if these digital social networks allow anyone you list as a friend not have to deal with, relate with, be confronted with the actual person. Someone who hasn’t seen you in years (and who might not care two pennies about you) can learn you got married, had 3 kids, earned a dual degree, joined a fraternity, went to the club last night, broke your arm, read a good book, and even be updated on how you claim to feel that day all by just reviewing your page. If they can do all that by just looking at your page online, what’s their motivation in calling you, stopping by, even sending you a nice email or letter just to say what’s up? Are we losing the x factor, the human factor?
I’m not exactly the most social of butterflies, but damn! Come talk to me, ring my phone, damn, ring my bell! Connect, connect, and connect some more. There is so much that is gained by relating with someone face to face, in the flesh, hearing someone’s voice rise in excitement, sing in laughter or tremble in nervousness, even in some hardship. So, yeah, I deleted my pages. I figure anyone who genuinely wants to deal with Mel has the means (i.e. telephone, email address, home address, etc.) and will happily use them. I haven’t regretted it thus far.
So, I challenge you to rage against the machine. Call somebody you call a friend today. I challenge you to really connect like a human should.