Time was that contact between people was face-to-face, or by phone. Now, all we have to do is log on to facebook and “like” something. Contact accomplished. It’s about as intimate as walking by someone you know at the bus stop and nodding vaguely in their direction.
We’re getting lazy as a society. In the good old days we did things differently. If it was someone’s birthday, for example, you visited them, phoned them, or maybe sent them a birthday card. Now, you send them a Happy Birthday! on facebook. That’s great for acquaintances, but it seems anti-climatic for close friends and family. I always feel a tad guilty after I post my Happy Birthday! to people who should probably get a phone call. I wonder if others feel a little guilty too.
I had a few acquaintances who used to send everyone the same letter at Christmas time–one letter fits all. Of course they wrote all about themselves–they could hardly ask how you were in a letter designed for mass consumption. What an outrageous exercise in narcissism. Facebook is alot like that too.
There is an upside to facebook though. I reconnected with childhood friends and former colleagues. I didn’t need facebook to do it, mind you (there is such a thing as a phone book), but facebook was the vehicle and I’ll give it its due credit. I also made some new friends on facebook, some of whom live halfway around the globe.
All in all, though, I think social media, like facebook, should be an adjunct to and facilitator of relationships, not a substitute. I kind of admire people who haven’t joined, and don’t plan to. They’ll take their relationships the old-fashioned way, thank you very much.