Sunday, May 3, 2009

Technology and Relationships

Recently I became a Twitter. I saw it mentioned on a cute Sprint commercial, so I checked it out. It's a social networking mini-blog. You can get on and "twit" anytime of the day from anywhere. Think of it as text messaging your life over the Internet for everyone to read. That's Twitter. I noticed quite of few businesses use it to drive traffic to their website, and I joined for that purpose to drive sales to my Phantom blog. I must say tweeting works. The more Twitter friends the more people click on your link and viola!

However, someone posted an absolutely hilarious link to YouTube about twitting that really hit home. I've posted a link below so you can watch it. When it is suggested that social networking doesn't necessarily mean you have "real friends," the reality to all the Twitters is devastatingly hilarious. I can't stop laughing when I watch it!

Social networking on the Internet is how "today's generation communicates." We make friends on MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and wherever else we can pop up a profile and add friends. Is it really helping or is it a sign of our social depravity of having lost the ability to communicate face to face and make lasting relationships with real human beings?

I admit that I am as bad a the next person. MySpace was my first chosen place to make friends. Oh, I did meet real live people there, but I also met people who claimed to be friends that loved and cared for me, but I never knew their real names. I, on the other hand, told them everything about myself to prove my sincerity. In the end, anonymity on their part gave way to unpleasantness and a broken relationship. As I write this article, I sincerely challenge myself to consider the meaning of true friendship when you have no human contact and no idea who is behind a profile.

Then I went to Facebook. At least I found real people there with real names and have even enjoyed lunch with a few. People are more open about who they are in real life, which I think builds better relationships. It's a little more mature group of social networking individuals. but it's business as usual. I collect those little friend icons all over my page for self-affirmation and networking.

Now Twitter! I can tweet my thoughts at any moment and send them out in the airwaves! Between two Twitter profiles, I have nearly 800 fellow tweeters to tweet to! Yes, there's even Twitter jargon to learn.

Does all this social networking help us as singles or has it really contributed to the breakdown of relationships rather than the building of relationships? I guess it all depends on how you look at it. Our lives are busy and filled with devices that are suppose to make our lives easier. I agree in a lot of sense they do, but I think as humans we are also losing the ability to communicate face-to-face and express ourselves through our voice and have lost the art of basic social skills.

As I think about it, I wonder if it's contributed to the divorce rate, because we've lost the ability to sit down and communicate with one another. I think it's also increased the crime rate. Cyberbulling is now considered a Federal offense and an increasing problem over the Internet due to the anonymity it provides.

Do we really make friends online? Or is it like the video suggests, "none of you have any friends!" We're all duped into thinking these avenues will make lasting relationships and fill our loneliness - a profile, an icon, friend requests, friends accepted, and comments and posts on our pages. Technology is redefining the meaning of friendship drastically. Friendship is now a water-downed version called social networking with easy participation that costs little investment for us as real humans, except for our time.

As I write about the 19th century in my new novel, I see a different world where people met in public places like cafes, strolled public gardens, attended the opera, and met at social gatherings in homes. They strolled, they talked, they met face-to-face (rather than through a webcam) and made lasting relationships that evolved into love and marriage.

So has technology helped or harmed us? It's another one of those two-edged swords in our lives that can influence us either way. I've enjoy it, and I've been stung by it.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to post a link to this article on Twitter. In the meantime, go have a good laugh at the video below.

None of You Have Any Friends!