Saturday, December 18, 2010

Not For Nuthin' Do They Call It Social Networking!

There is much valid discussion these days about how the Internet has "connected" us without actually connecting us.  I have participated in the discussion, arguing on both sides. On the one hand, e-mail, texting, social networking and Internet dating sites have resulted in people becoming more involved with their computers and phones, and less with each other in nose-to-nose interaction.

On the other hand, in a large city like L.A., it's difficult to meet people, because folks are on their beaten paths, moving from Point A to Point B, and don't stop to say "hi" to the strangers they pass along the way. It's that way, I think, in most large cities. I've spent time in New York and Chicago, too, both of which have much larger pedestrian populations than L.A., and it's often the same in those cities. Perhaps even worse, instead of the hull of a car surrounding them, New Yorkers and Chicagoans must construct a bit of an invisible, impermeable force-field to safeguard against the invasion of so many egos, so many energies packed so closely together. Sometimes, it can be difficult to let those walls down, even in the company of companions and friends. The computer and the Blackberry offer a safe way to feel connected without going out on a limb.

But going out on a limb is what's required of any real-life relationship. Networking -- any networking, cyber or otherwise -- is only for the purpose of making the initial connection. After that, you'll either let the connection die, or you'll take it "nose-to-nose".  I've met some fabulous people online -- people who have become real friends in the end. From my blogging buddy Alisa, to my cowboy hero, Jim, to the lovely man I'm seeing now, Mark... they all started as online connections. At some point, though, one or both of us decided we'd tear down the electronic wall and meet face to face, where you can look in someone's eyes and see them smile and take all the risks and reap all the benefits of real, live human contact.

The other benefits of social networking is reconnecting with folks who've slipped away from you. I've mentioned one of them on this blog before -- Christopher Lister, my half-brother.  (That's just in case he googles himself -- which -- yes, I'll say it -- he has been known to do!!) I've lost and found Christopher a couple of times on the internet. If it were up to me and Christopher on our own, we'd have fallen away from one another and never connected again. Fortunately, thanks to the internet, and Chris' wife, Traci, we might actually get to spend time together over the holidays. Social networking made that possible, so it's not to be taken lightly.

Look, I love my Droid.  I'm never giving it up (unless it's to get a better Droid). I want a laptop and a tablet and a Kindle with wireless broadband. I want the newest, biggest, fastest, baddest, broadest, widest bandwidth I can get. But I also want a hug every now and then, and I'm so grateful and happy that the people that I connect with are also so inclined.

It's comin' on Christmas, people.  Find someone you know and send 'em some love.

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