Far to Close, Close to Far

Yesterday, I shared this video from Larry Ferlazzo’s blog (seriously watch it):

There are a lot of things to think about in what is being shared, but there are some things that really pushed my thinking.  First of all, technology is something that I really believe can enhance face-to-face relationships, and some of the loneliness that we encounter in our lives, technology can help to bring that together.  There are many times that I personally am on the road and am alone.  I have experienced more games and plays in the last few years by myself, than I have with other people. I love the experience but always want to share it with others.  The ability to connect with people through Twitter often makes the experiences different from me than sitting in silence for the entire time.  Experience, in my view, is better when it is shared with someone else and Twitter gives me that opportunity when it did not exist before.

Yet that connection and sometimes seemingly the accountability to a network can hamper the relationships you have with those that stand in front of you.  I specifically did not say “those closest” because honestly, the majority of my closest relationships now were formed through social media.  I wouldn’t even try to list the amazing relationships that I have made through social media in fear of missing someone.  One of the comments from the video really stood out to me:

“Technology brought people who are far apart close, but break people who are close far apart.” YouTube comment

My very good friend Beth Still (we met through Twitter), wrote about the impact that social media can have on our relationships with our significant others, as well as changing the way we “define” relationships:

Over the last two years I have had conversations with a handful of close friends who are either in marriages or serious relationships that have suffered because of the friendships they have formed online. Technology has changed the way in which we communicate and interact. It has forever changed who we call our friends and colleagues.

Facebook has been cited in an estimated 33% of divorce petitions (2011) now and sometimes it is probably not the problem, yet sometimes, my guess is that it could actually start the problem.  This could also be linked back to something from Barry Schwartz talking about the “Paradox of Choice”, and how often more choice leads to more misery.  We are less happy because we see so many alternatives.

The “knee-jerk” reaction to this is to get our kids off of social media, yet I think it is more about continuing to ask critical questions and understand the impact social media has in both a positive and negative sense.  It is easy to criticize from afar, but to be a part of the world and learn to navigate it is something that we should learn to continuously help our kids.  In the last year or so, I have spent less time on Twitter and more time connecting face-to-face, sometimes feeling a backlash from those that live in other areas.  The people that I have connected with that are my closest friends all have access to me through multiple means and know they can call or text at any point.  I have learned to become comfortable not responding to every single tweet or Direct Message, and although some may find that offensive, it is imperative that I take care of myself and those closest to my heart.  Time is always something we never have enough of, and I want to try to make the best of the moments I have in my life.  I wouldn’t say that I totally am where I want to be, but I feel more balanced in the space than I was previously.

In any case, the video I have shared is not only great for discussion with our students and others, but perhaps with ourselves.  I know it made me think about what I do and how I share, and I am guessing it will have the same impact on others.  It is important that we look inward before we share outward.

cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Petras Gagilas

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