Some young friends of mine were talking about how social networking has negatively affected their live interactions with friends. One complained that when she has friends over to hang out or watch a movie they spend all of their time on laptops, iPads and phones messaging and texting friends who are hanging out with other people at other places. My young friend complained that when she tries to have a conversation with someone who is simultaneously socializing in cyber space, she has to constantly repeat herself and feel that she isn’t being listened to. She’s attempting to engage and deepen her relationship with a friend who is engaged in a simulated relationship to the detriment of the real one sitting right next to her. Are internet social networking sites that are supposed to enhance connectivity actually impeding communication in the real world? Is this behavior damaging live friendships and the development of social skills? This technology has overtaken us so quickly that we haven’t been able to evolve the coping skills (time-management and etiquette?) that might enable a smooth transition to occupying social lives on the internet and in our homes.
Yesterday I spent the day skiing with my family at a small mountain in upstate New York. There was no cell service. We spent an entire day in a place where we didn’t see one person on a cell phone or an iPad. It took a few hours to realize what was missing here but it was very refreshing. The comfortable sounds of clomping ski boots, conversation and meal clatter were never once interrupted by ringtones, vintage or otherwise.