The internet is brimming with social networking sites (SNS) these days and more, I bet, would be popping up in the future. It is said that these social networking sites make distance irrelevant, and communication with dear family and friends better. But do they?
I have always been reluctant when it comes to SNS. It often takes me years to sign up for an account, and friends usually have to “encourage me strongly” (a.k.a. force me) to do so. Before, I used to think that joining SNS was just a silly way to collect “friends”, and announcing to the world what you were up to, no matter how insignificant these things might be. If I wanted to connect with friends, I would rather meet them in person, I thought. But, as years passed by and friends became busier and eventually lacked the time to meet up, I realized that these SNS might even have a good purpose after all.
Despite this realization, I still did not become a big fan of SNS. I would put up one, build it, but lose interest in it afterwards. My friends were mostly into uploading photos; I was not. I was more into writing, but my friends were not so much big fans of reading. Besides, after a while, newer and more popular SNS emerged and friends usually supported them, neglecting the accounts that they had put up, and therefore disconnecting with the friends they had added in their contacts lists.
After signing up for these SNS, I finally grew tired of them. I have deleted most of the accounts that I have, and I now just mainly use Facebook and WordPress nowadays (with the latter enjoying more of the attention). My social-media-crazy friends have told me to sign up for Twitter, but I refuse to do so. Really, what can you express in Twitter? (Just bought a new pair of shoes today. Excited to wear them. Yay!) I can be a bit of anti-social at times, but because of my reluctance to join these SNS, some of my friends have called me “anti-social” for a completely different reason.
A couple of weeks back, I hung out with some friends. We watched a show and decided to get some lunch afterwards. I was hoping we could share a good conversation about a lot of things over lunch as we had not seen each other for quite a while, but as soon as our butts hit the chairs, they took out their phones and tweeted away. I did not want to take away from them the pleasure of announcing something to the virtual world, so I did not say anything; I thought it would not last more than five minutes, anyway. But, how completely I was mistaken! They chatted with their Twitter / FB friends about the show we had just finished watching – for almost twenty minutes, interrupted only by the waiter telling something about our orders, or them curtly encouraging me to sign up for Twitter so I could “relate.” Watching them, I could not help but be pissed. I did not want to make a big issue out of it anymore, so I just did not express any irritation that I had with them. The order finally arrived. We ate and chatted… a bit.
Is this the future of human interaction – contained in the intricacies and void of interconnected computers and phones?
A couple of days after, I found this interesting “game” posted by a contact in Facebook.
Introducing a new game called:
“Don’t Be Anti-Social During Meals With Friends.”
Everyone puts their phones in the middle of the table. Whoever cracks first by touching their phone, pays for the entire meal.
The purpose of the game was to get everyone off their phones, away from Twitter,Facebook, texting, etc. and to encourage conversations. In other words, help cure the “Anti-Social Social Media Craziness.”
1) The game starts after everyone sits down.
2) Everybody places their phone in the middle of the table.
3) The first person to touch their phone loses the game.
4) Loser of the game pays the bill for everyone’s meal.
5) If the bill comes before anyone has touched their phone, everybody is declared a winner and pays for their own meal.
We had a blast. Conversation rocked. Everyone loved it.
Are You Game? Are you willing to turn the tide of anti-social behavior? What do you think?!?
The “game” clearly reflects my sentiment but I am not asking everyone not to touch their phones at all because I think that would be too much. What I am simply asking is for people not to spend too much time on their phones, Twitter, Facebook, games, etc. that they fail to remember that they are actually in the company of real people. I do not care about who pays for the bill, what I do care about are the issues of face-to-face human communication and relations, even respect and courtesy.
If communication would inexorably lead to this kind of scenario, then I would be glad, even proud, to be considered an anti-social.