Aaron Mahnke shared some thoughts on how the Internet and social media have improved our relationships, rather than causing people to become increasingly isolated. I'm giving his piece a large dose of summarization in saying that, but it's the essence of what I took away the post.
But then something happened. People started to question technology. They started pushing it in a new direction. And for all the snake oil salesmen and plethora of “gurus”, the advent of social media brought a bit of the soul back into the online world. All of a sudden, people were interacting with people on a deeper level again. We moved beyond being users of our devices, and became people again. Humanity clawed its’ way back into the Internet.
I like Aaron's thinking, but I wouldn't be so quick to make a case for social media improving our relationships. Overall, at least.
I do agree with Aaron that tools like Twitter have given us opportunities to connect with folks we never would have without the tool in question. I wouldn't do what I do for a living without it. I've communicated with amazing people from all over the planet, spoken with great people across this continent, and even developed a few deeper relationships with a select few. This has been blessing.
But I worry about the cost. Where have I missed opportunities to more deeply connect with those in my own community. You know — the real one outside my window. What chances to connect with my children have I missed because I was throwing tweets back and forth with people I've not yet met in person.
Aaron gets this as well:
… [it] still cannot hold a candle to good conversation over a cup of coffee. I’m ashamed to admit that my friend Dave Caolo lives only two hours away from me, but we haven’t yet met in person.
It's not my intent here to completely dismiss Aaron's point. I see the benefit in these tools and greatly value the relationships I've had the privilege to build in the past years. But I count that blessing in one hand while I count the cost in the other.
And there are days when I look at the balance at wonder, despite the good that comes, whether the cost is too high.
Aaron finishes with this:
I sit down at my desk each morning intent on nurturing those friendships.
Great point. Let's make it an even higher priority to nurture the relationships that don't come across the desk, but across the hall or across the street.