Anti-Social Networking

I’m sure that’s not an original title, I did not even bother to Google it, I’m sure there are a bazillion posts like that out there. Today, I’m just “wondering out loud” along with you, no doubt.

My thoughts were inspired by today’s TED post from Renny Gleeson, Web 2.0 media and marketing guy:

I know you’ve all seen the poses Renny references. You’ve even seen the car traveling down the freeway on autopilot as the driver has head buried in small hand held device (I’m guilty) attempting to type a text message on a numeric keyboard. You’ve even seen the road sign probably in the form of a bumper sticker (it’s OK, I know it had a ‘bad word’ in it – trust me you will be OK.)

I’m actually loving the new networking world, but of course, there’s always good with bad, see my other post on social media. But I’ve really gotta wonder. I’m sort of a marginally-fringe-maybe-somewhat-mainstream user of things like SMS, Facebook, and Twitter, with (maybe) a tweet-a-day and a few minutes each day making funny comments on other people’s Facebook comments. Truth is, I am more up to date and “connected” to my “circle” than ever before. I’m finding that when I get face to face with folks, it’s starting to be where we “continue” conversations that began in the digital realm, instead of starting fresh. This does not bother me at all, as in this role these forms of media are “augmenting” the traditional forms of interaction. It’s actually making communication and connection a little better in our busy, busy world.

Uh oh… but there’s the slippery slope. Those of you old enough to remember life without computers (I was very young {grin}) do you remember what the promise was? More time. Computers would create freedom from all of the mundane in life, adding valuable time back into our day. The unwritten theme underneath the ‘extra time’ piece in the mind of most is really defined as “more time to do the things that have higher value in our lives” and if you go one step further, many

Honeywell Kitchen Computer from 1969

Honeywell Kitchen Computer from 1969

would say things like family, friends, relationship. Have you seen any of the old adds for the Honeywell ‘Kitchen Computer” of 1969? The photo at right is a link, have fun reading about it.

I think you get the idea. Our nature never seems to make more space in life, instead it seems that we always strive (key word) to be more efficient with the time that we have, and the ever-elusive freedom seems to remain just that – we never really create the freedom from the mundane that we desire, we simply replace it with more high-tech mundane.

The add-on problem here (Bryan’s theory) is that if our amount of time equals X, and we use up all of our X implementing efficiency tools to make us as mega efficient as the day is long, we have no margin. Truth is, life (and all of the tech tools that we’ve put into it) has a maintenance component that is always equal to +1, so in order to make life “balance” we always seem to need TIME = X + 1 . The problem is, we’re only ever given X.

Friends, it’s the story of my (past) life. At times, I’ve gone off the deep end with this. Today, it is SO EASY to do. Just ask Kim how much time in past years I’ve spent implementing technology tools that will “help the family” – I don’t think I’ve ever seen an ROI on that time spent. How much time did you spend on Facebook today, deepening relationships? How much MORE TV have you watched this week on TiVO, now that that one hour program is really only 41 minutes? See the trend? We always replace the newfound time with more of the original activity. Trust me, I’ve been there, done that, and got the t-shirt. You can have it…

You see, there’s really no tool that will make space in our lives for the things that really matter in our hearts (you can thank The Fall for that…) I’m still searching for the “SpareTime” app for the iPhone, and it better be a FREE app. And there’s the real secret – true relationship does not come out of “spare time” but instead comes out of “intentional time” that we purposefully carve out for just that purpose – time we place at the “highest level of importance.” If that time were an e-mail, it would have the little red exclamation point right next to it.

So Renny ends the video with a reqest that we “make technologies that make people more human, and not less.”

I’d like to make a slightly different request. Let’s not use technology simply as a way to become efficiently busy. Let’s all carve out intentional time for relationships in our lives. Relationships with our spouse, family, and friends. Yeah, I know, it’s messier and takes time – can’t I just send a tweet out to my friends? Yeah, please do that, but not at the expense of hanging with those friends doing “Verbal” messaging.

Oh, there is one more thing. Don’t forget our Maker. We recognize His Death today (Good Friday), and with His death all of our personal “crap” can die as well – if we Choose Him. And Sunday, we will celebrate the life that He gives us. Think of it as God 2.0 – we now can use some of that intentional time we’re creating to interface directly with Him, first, above all else. But it’s a double choice – first to choose Him, and then to be intentional about carving out the time to be in His relationship. Isn’t it interesting that that’s the same formula that is needed for success in other relationships as well? Almost like that was modeled for us… Hmmnnn..

Have an outstanding Good Friday. It’s a solemn mood, but we still have plenty to celebrate on this day.

Remember X + 1 ? Well, that was not totally correct – it’s really X + One .

3 thoughts on “Anti-Social Networking

  1. victoria

    This is so interesting and something I’ve been thinking of lots these days. Of course, if I followed through with all I’ve been thinking about I’d probably not have been on FB to read you had a blog post up and I’d not be reading your blog, so……

    With that being said, you know I’m a gadget fiend. I’m hopelessly in love with my Mac and iphone. Love twitter; FB and everything else.
    I’ve just read a book that brought up some interesting points:

    Does the Internet create the illusion of intimacy?

    As you’ve stated we’ve definitely become more efficient and I’ve found that it has enhanced my relationships with people, bringing people to me I’d not otherwise have known and perhaps will be inspired to know more because of FB or email or other sites. I’ve found much good coming from these things, but Shane Hipps in his book Flickering Pixels writes:

    “This anonymous intimacy has a strange effect. It provides just enought connection to keep us from pursuing real intimacy. In a virtual community, our contacts involve very little real risk and demand even lesss of us personally. Vulnerability is optional. A community that promises freedom from rejection and makes authentic emotional investment optional can be extremely appealing, remarkably efficient, and a lot more convenient.” Pg. 114.

    “We no longer feel the need to participate in authentic community. Authentic community involves high degrees of intimacy, permanence, and proximity. While relative intimacy can be gained in virtual settings, the experience of permanence and proximity have all but vanished.”

    Yet I’ve also read that people who have rich online relationships tend to have more in real life also. It’s a tool to connect.

    I do wonder at times if it has “cheapened” interaction, It’s so efficient and easy to send a birthday greeting on FB or an e-card. In fact, its all set up for us; we hardly have to remember that it’s someone’s birthday. Our computers remind us, FB reminds us. etc. It used to be a physical act to hand address a card and mail it out a week in advance to insure it would reach the sender by or before the birthday or event. One knew it was well thought out and had a personal touch with a personal message.

    Now, we can forget until the day of the event and switch on our computer for 2 minutes, send the card or greeting and not think of the person again and feel I’ve done my duty and pat myself on the back for being so thoughtful.

    I hear lots these days about “being present in the moment” which in a way is a bit absurd but I see its truth. We as people in a modern society are being pulled so many ways.

    There’s no way I’ll ever leave twitter, FB, my mac, iphone, etc but It is good to be aware and wary of the time and energy, relationships and the reality of what is really important and Who is really important. These relationships need more maintenance than a twitter update. I found it odd that I was away for a few days, twittering every hour or so and all my FB/twitterfriends knew more about my day and habits and trip than my own husband knew. My defense? He had the option of logging onto FB and didn’t. But in truth, I had the option of keeping in touch with him directly but left it up to facebook to do so, (Hey, I must admit here that every night we’d call each other when the kids were in bed….. I wasn’t that bad)

    Great Post Bryan! Happy Good Friday to you and thanks for the reminder.

    Still not giving up my twitter though!

  2. bwcole Post author

    Awesome text Victoria,
    Thanks for taking the time to write it.. I think you nailed it.. it’s parallel to so many things in the world.. There’s a balance. Alcohol can be good, and can kill. Facebook allows my wife to connect with other moms and not feel alone in the stay-at-home-mom world . Facebook can also take over every moment of one’s time. It’s all a balance.. GREAT comment.. thanks!

  3. Angela Whitton

    Hello Bryan,

    Simon is very grateful that you blogged about his cause to help spread the message of Why in a previous post.
    If you could please send me your mailing address, Simon would like to send you a token of appreciation.

    Stay inspired and inspire others.


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