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Disconnection Via Social Connection

There was a time way back when, maybe a little longer than a decade ago --- damn near a century by technology's standards --- when I would make plans with someone, let's say a best friend, to do something, for example a movie. We agreed on where to meet and when.

And then we'd meet up when we said we would and we went to do what we planned to do. We held each other accountable to the plan we set. Traffic, storms, confusion at home...none of it mattered. You showed up on time or an acceptable amount of minutes late, stood by your plans and your word.

A couple weeks back I pulled up right in front of my son who was waiting for me in front of the movie theater near our house. He was looking down at his phone and wasn't looking up. I reached for my cell phone to call him when I heard me tell myself,

This is stupid.

I rolled down the window and started yelling at him to get in the car. Yelling not because I have no home training, but because I just felt plain silly.

What's even sillier? The fact that, if I choose, I can talk to friends all over the place via Facebook or Twitter, Disqus or whatever else I can get my hands on as far as social media goes, but I can hardly reach anyone on the phone and seeing them in person is a joke.

The very thing that makes social media viable is the thing that perpetuates a disconnected society: the desire to connect. Social media has broken down social barriers (by allowing people to hide behind their keyboards), created networks that in some cases reach absurd numbers --- the millions, and hardly any of them actually know one another.

I consider myself lucky. I've been able to put a real face and a breathing body to some of the more animated personalities in my social registers. And they are anything but crazy. This may have everything to do with the fact that they are animated personalities and merely use social media to enhance, not create, their networks. And at the beginning of the summer my luck got even better. I was able to connect with some old high school friends and despite my initial trepidation, we had a blast.

So what's my issue, you may be asking right about now? Simple. The lure of "connecting" has made cheating on your spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend, job, children, furry friends, etc., with your computer okay. I remember at one point in this life when chat rooms were the equivalent of an e-Sodom & Gomorrah, but now chatting via gchat, AIM, MSN Messenger, Facebook Chat, Twitter, all of it is as normal and considered as much a part of your daily routine as eating. So you're laughing at a screen, talking to a tiny camera mounted atop your monitor and barely speaking to the people you live with (now this is a worst-case scenario I'm painting here, but if left unchecked the lure can easily become an addiction).

Just ask yourself the following questions: 1) What is the first thing you DO when you wake up in the morning? 2) What is the first thing you DO after you sit down to your desk at work? 3) How do you unwind at home? 4) Does work ever end if social media is attached to your business?

Hopefully smartphone, computer and Facebook and/or Twitter or myspace won't be words that make up your answer. But if they do...

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