Networking is great, but don’t forget about the real world

Last weekend, I went to the Harvest of Hope Fest in St. Augustine, Florida. While I am still physically in pain, mentally I returned refreshed, recharged, and in an overall better mood. (I also came back having picked up smoking again, but that’s not important here).

Now, as a good geek and internet junkie, I brought both my smartphone and my netbook, along with all the chords and chargers to make sure I stayed connected. Did I? No. But not for the reasons you think. I got a good signal, was able to connect, and do whatever I needed to. But, unbeknownst to me, I went “off the grid”. And it was fantastic.

I kept my phone off and in my truck, only to turn it on when I called my wife. I fired up the netbook and uploaded each day’s pictures before I went to sleep, but that was mainly to keep the space free on my SD card. I barely checked Twitter, and I┬ánever once loaded Facebook or my Google reader. I had no desire to, really. Why? I was there with both old friends and new faces, enjoying what was going on around me. There was music, laughter, debauchery, and a little bit of insanity. And I loved every minute of it.

Don’t get me wrong, I think social media is great. I’ve made some great connections, and met a few people I truly consider friends that I otherwise would have never known. And it’s been a great way to keep up with people, esp. given my rather hectic life. I love using Twitter to both keep a quick check on what’s going on, and also to help people with computer issues (which is something I truly enjoy). Hell, I met my wife on MySpace, so I don’t have an ill word towards any of it. But I’ve noticed that more and more, social media and networking is replacing actual human interaction. If your first thought to any interaction or thought is to blog, facebook, or tweet about it, maybe you should look around and see if there is something missing. Why not have that conversation with someone else? So that person that you keep saying you’re going to get together with? Don’t send them a message on MySpace or write on their Facebook wall. Call them. On the phone. And go out and have lunch, or a cup of coffee. You’ll be surprised to see what a difference the real human interaction will make.

{ 5 comments }

Andy Drish March 13, 2009 at 6:36 pm

Andrew – This post was really refreshing. After doing things non-stop online, sometimes it’s just nice to unplug everything.

Thanks for the reminder.

Jamie March 13, 2009 at 6:43 pm

Thanks for this reminder. I needed it.

Ben Stone March 13, 2009 at 7:18 pm

I have a note in my to do list to write this blog post. I also have a note in there about whether or not people reading a blog post really want to hear this message. My view is that social media is a communication tool designed to AUGMENT and ENHANCE terrestrial fleshy activity. It is the means, not the end.

(how hypocritical am I to write this on a blog comment?)

norcross March 13, 2009 at 9:12 pm

@ Ben Stone – well, I wrote it, you commented, so we’re in the same boat?

Ryan Stephens March 14, 2009 at 4:47 pm

I always love when I have the opportunity to completely unplug (as long as it’s on my own terms, and not because I’m having computer issues -lol-).

I do think that the relationships I’ve forged online enhance my overall life, particularly my business endeavors, but there’s certainly something to be said for taking a weekend off and just spending it with great friends, good food, a few drinks, and some tunes.

Thanks for the all the help you’ve given me of late with my computer. I realize that when I get frustrated with the stupid thing, I probably say things that are pretty ignorant, but all that aside, I’m very grateful for your help.

R