I miss the pre-social media world sometimes, back then ignorance was bliss.
Communicating Back Then
Growing up in the 70’s meant no cell phones or Netbooks. We sent all our correspondences via snail mail and any phone calls came to the house or office. Most of us had one phone in our homes, but some of the more well off families had extensions upstairs, and even separate phones for the kids. No one ever called during dinner hours or after 9:00.
We received our news from newspapers, magazines or one of a half dozen television stations and always had to wait for the designated hours for updates. If there was an emergency, the news would break into our regularly scheduled programming but that was extremely rare. We weren’t always connected and didn’t feel the need to be. In 1977, I was 13 years old. If you had offered me a phone to take everywhere with me, I would have thought you were crazy. Why on earth would I need to call people that much? Yet now, at least where I live, most 13 year olds are connected via cell phone and email.
We had penpals. We wrote to them now and again, usually when our parents reminded us. We sent handwritten “thank you” cards and Christmas cards and everyone marveled at our good manners. We didn’t need to know what all our friends and relatives where doing all day, every day, and that suited us just fine, thank you very much. Today, we know which of our friends are at the airport, what our cousins are having for dinner and who is checking in at the supermarket. Though I’m very proud of being the Mayor of both Stop N’ Shop and Saladworks, I couldn’t give you one good reason why you even need to know I’ve been there.
When I asked my husband for a smart phone for Christmas I thought it would be kind of convenient to have for occasionally checking email or the odd Twitter update. Who knew it would be come a total extension of me? If you see me and I’m not checking Facebook or Gmail, there’s a good chance I’m about to. I went to a family reunion last fall and everyone under 50 sat in silence for about an hour as we checked our phones for updates. We finally interacted as we began befriending each other on Facebook.
You want to know the funniest thing about all this connectivity? All the social media people (including me) are insisting it’s all about the conversation. Yet we go to conferences and meet ups and sit at tables talking to people online instead of each other. We attend speaking engagements and tweet updates instead of concentrating on what is being said at the podium. In the real world talking while someone else is talking is considered rude. In the social media world, we’re updating people and building trust via conversation.
It’s not a secret that I love my Facebook and Twitter, and couldn’t live without blogging. I wonder though, are we going too far? Do you care that my dog chewed the couch or that my son hit a home run? How does it help my business for you to know we’re barbecuing over the weekend? There was a time we would never let anyone know where we lived or what we do when we’re offline, for fear of our safety. Now, there are whole social networks designed to track our every move.
I know we all use the various social networks and social media tools differently, and we’re all in charge of how much information we put out there. However, in our fun I hope we’re also being careful. Communication is cool and all, but there’s such a thing as too much information. It’s why you’ll never see me mention my husband or son’s name, and why the only places I check into on FourSquare aren’t located near my home.
I love my social media, but there’s something to be said about not be connected to every network. No one needs to know that much about someone else.
What do you think? Are we too connected?
Image via Brandon Eley