In an age in which it's possible to be connected to countless people across the globe almost simultaneously, we are, I think, as disconnected as ever.
Twitter's a great example. I've got close to 4000 followers, which, on the surface, can certainly make a person feel pretty stinkin' connected. Or even "popular". Yet when I tweet something (which occurs several times daily, because it's so easy and quick and I LOVE WORDS), I almost never get responses from people.
Hear me. ALMOST NEVER.
If I do get responses, they are few. As in, one or two. Maybe three. Usually, they're from folks whom I'd term "the always-responders". These are people who make an effort to connect (through response) because it's important to them. Or because they simply prefer a two-way conversation over a one-way one.
And anyway, there's no such thing as a one-way conversation. There's no "conversing" going on.
Of course, not every tweet warrants a response. Sometimes it's just a link to the day's blog post (sharing info--no response needed). Sometimes it's some other sort of basic info-sharing. Or a quick vent.
But sometimes my heart is full and I'll tweet a thankful tweet. Or I'll ask a question (Twitter is a wealth of information, if only folks would take the time to answer). Or I'll share happy news. Or I'll say something funny. (Well, okay. Maybe I only think it's funny.)
And often I get no--or very little--response. Almost 4000 people potentially see the tweet, but it's just one more blip in all the noise.
(Cue Grinch: "All the noise, noise, noise, NOISE!")
Which I think is indicative of our tendency to allow ourselves to be inundated by the noise to the point at which it washes over us like silent waves, crashing down on our senses and rendering us unresponsive. We click, we scroll, we read a little, we move on. We don't CONNECT. We don't even THINK very hard about what we're reading.
It's all just words on the screen. Images. Music. Blip. Blip. Blip.
For someone who lives to express herself through the written word (I don't just mean stories--I mean EVERYTHING), this is disconcerting. I don't want to be part of the noise. I don't want to be a blip. My words are imbued with my heart--my passion--my moment of crazy--whatever it is that makes me ME at the moment. I want empathy, I want solidarity, I want laughter, I want some sort of visceral or emotional or SOME KIND OF HUMAN response.
I'm sure I'm not alone in this.
And yet, how can we remedy it without pulling away, ceasing to contribute to the noise? Which will, of course, mean that we'll miss out on the potential to connect, no matter how low that potential may be.
This blog is different, in that there is so much more interaction. True connection. Some of the thoughtful responses that show up in comment boxes blow me away. Folks take time to share hearts and dreams and all sorts of grittily-human stuff here. I love it. THRIVE on it.
But even with all the wonderful we-are-family that goes on here, there's still a lot of clicking-scrolling-reading-moving-on that occurs. The ratio of my daily hits to number of comments is way lopsided. There are too many blogs, too many web sites, too many things for us to dabble in and nibble on. Like a long buffet table and a small plate. We can only fit so much on it (and we don't have time to go back for seconds--life beckons!).
Which means only one thing. Connection--real, honest-to-goodness, person-to-person connection takes place face to face. Real life. (No, really. It's that thing where you're in the same room with another person.)
Still. I marvel at the ability of the internet to offer true connection. Despite the noise factor, that ability still exists. I wouldn't have met Jodi if it weren't for Twitter. Or Holly or Julie or Adam or Christine or any of the other REALLY SPECIAL PEOPLE in my life.
So do yourself a favor. Don't use social media to pass idle time or medicate or lurk incessantly. Use it to CONNECT. I'm pretty sure that's what the SOCIAL part means.
And that's my Friday rant. You're welcome.
(Also? In the spirit of being transparent online: if you haven't read this post by CJ Redwine, you're missing out. I laughed so hard that I'm pretty sure I scared away the wildlife in my yard. Seriously. Only the cicadas remained, and that's because they were up so high in the trees.)