Every conference and planning session at our places of work, worship and otherwise includes some discussion and consideration of how to make use of (and avoid being used by) the various social media mechanisms handily available on our computers and cell phones. Facebook, Twitter and blogging have all become established in our collective lexicon, even as new concepts like Pinterest are emerging. Yet, in spite of our noted technologic sophistication and emerging bourgeois attachment to the electronic lifestyle, we remain, at our cores, interested in the simple connection with our fellow travelers.
Those of us who have made the commitment to connect, check e-mail and text with an almost addictive attention. Some would feel completely isolated without an hourly review of Facebook and Twitter. Recently, with a group of well-read and interesting folks, I took note that we’d all fallen from conversation and were, instead of exchanging with our tablemates, engaged in assessment of our respective hand-held communication devices. What was it that we needed to know? Had the world changed so much in the moments since we’d last looked that we felt driven to depart from stimulating conversation to instead retreat to our own private communication? In pointing to the absurdity of our situation, one wise compatriot said, “Facebook birthdays are like elementary school Valentine’s parties.” She was both pithy and entirely correct. Even today, we revel in the fact that people think of us, counting the number of messages from online acquaintances and friends taking note of our birthdays and life passages just like, as grade-schoolers, we’d peer hopefully into our earnestly decorated shoebox longing to find it filled with small love notes – perhaps one from the pretty girl with red hair. In the end, isn’t it normal, perhaps even good, to seek connection and to care if others seek it as well?