Sunday, January 02, 2011

Resolve to Focus on Real Life Relationships in 2011

Well, it's a new year. Time and others have declared Facebook the ruler of the Internets, while Twitter has been crowned the best thing to happen to personal communication since the telegram. But since it's a new year, my hope and wish is that everyone will take a step back and focus on real-life relationships in 2011.

The world is more connected than ever, but the always-on connectedness has a somewhat ironic effect of isolating people behind self-imposed digital walls. How many friends do you have on Facebook? 100? 200? 500? Is your happiness directly proportional to that number?

Take a second to think back to your best moments of 2010. Were they spent in front of a computer screen, tending to your virtual crops and "liking" status messages? Or were the best moments, the moments of true emotion, honesty, love, and levity spent with other people, out in the world, right smack in the middle of this fascinating adventure called life?

Commoditizing friendship won't help you truly connect with people. Tweeting 140-character sarcastic repartees might be a fun creative outlet, but it won't foster fulfilling relationships. Did you text a friend to flake out on something in 2010? Why not resolve to use voice next time (assuming you have a phone that is capable of making actual voice calls)? You know that good college friend that you IM every couple months? Why not try picking up the phone and giving them a call the next time they cross your mind?

Social media has its uses. Facebook is certainly more colorful and useful than your dad's rolodex, and is a great tool for procrastination and idle distraction. Twitter is fun for keeping tabs on your favorite bored celebrities. Email and other messaging are great for offline, non-interrupting communication. I use them all.

But the frenetic, short attention span world that we've created for ourselves is not healthy. It's not inspiring new paradigms of connectedness. It's not everything we're told it is. In short, it's not social.

For me, the times when I'm the happiest, when I'm enjoying life the most, are the times when I'm out in the world, interacting, laughing, loving, learning. Living.

So make 2011 a fresh start for your relationships. Don't forget that humans are social animals, and we've evolved to live together in communities. But most of all, remember what it means to be truly social. You don't need to "check in" to enjoy life. In fact, it might pass you by while you're looking down at your phone.

Go out there and live your lives to the fullest in 2011. You may be able to edit your status messages after the fact, but you only get one chance with your life. Go and make the most of it.

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