the road ahead

Online Obscurity?
February 21, 2010, 6:51 pm
Filed under: business, ministry, spirituality

How would you rate yourself and your online activity? Is the pressure for a bigger, broader online interconnectivity causing anxiety and stress in your life? When you get that strange “friend” request from an absolute stranger, do you pause and wonder if this is really what you wanted from an online experience?

The things that some people will tweet in order to get a broader audience seem to stretch the real purpose for all of this online reality. For some, the allure of an online platform gives them the chance to tell us (me) more about them than I really want to know, from the food they are consuming to the exercise routine that consumes them. I currently am pausing and asking the question:  Is it time for online obscurity?

I recently was drawn to these thoughts from a very thoughtful blog post from Clive Thompson. (It’s a great article–you should read it.) I remember a few years ago talking with a man who said that the average person in life will only have about 5 to 7 real friends. His thought was that in order to really have time with someone, you have to invest deeply in the relationship, and because of time constraints, you can only invest deeply in a few friends. So perhaps Facebook has become for many Acquaintance Book or Connection Book? Could it be that the larger our social network grow, the more it lessens our virtual connectivity?

I want my social networks to be about real conversation and connection. How about this: I want to talk with my digital friends, not talk at them!

Any thoughts? Am I the only one?


7 Comments so far
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I think this is an obvious issue, and why more and more people are realizing that without relative content for their audience (be it their “friends” or the broader on-line community), nothing they say on-line about their life, business, thoughts, or self will mean much to anyone.
It’s all about content now. Those who grasp that will have REAL on-line friends, real virtual conversations, and most importantly, real, relative content.

Comment by Stephanie Wales

Yes, I feel the tension between my myriad of potential “on-line” relationships, most of which are prior friendships rekindled by the ability to share things about our lives again. Those on-line relationships do tend more towards “information sharing” about and with each other than any real depth. One challenge I see is that the more I engage with my online acquaintances I find myself in some ways tapping my emotional reserves and see my real, day to day and face to face personal relationships getting the short end of the stick. Not a good trade off especially when considering my relationship with my wife and kids…

Comment by Tim Frye

I know why I use Facebook and it serves me well. The thing that breaks my heart is people who bring technology to the dinner table and focus on their e-mail instead of conversing with their table mates.

Comment by Valerie Hess

There’s a term ‘digital bankruptcy’ where a person reaches the state of overwhelm and just deletes everything and closes the email box, leaving only a note of where true freinds (not sales and spammers) can find them hiding under a different screen name. They miss the intimacy of friends.

Comment by Mike Mitchell

The problem today is the access to electronic means has become a substitute for real relationships that do take time, investment, and priorities. We have come so far, yet regressed so much.

Comment by Roy

I enjoy FB. I get to meet acquantances (friends) from all over the world. What a blessing! I get to reconnect with high school mates. Moreover, I get to travel with my FB friends and see places that I may never see. Or learn things I may never learn. FB is inspiring, and yes content is of primary value, moreover, a chance to relate.

Comment by David Brownlee

Thanks for the thoughts from Glen Arie. Had one of those friend requests the other day, didn’t know them and couldn’t see any connection from years past so I just passed on being their friend. Then I was thinking well maybe they are looking for a friend. I had the same thought, how much of a relationship can in be over the internet. I am past boomer age but I do enjoy connecting with folks I haven’t spoken with in years. Also, recently had a birthday and went out to eat and ran into a couple of different friends who said Happy Birthday, having seen it on fb. Felt good.

Comment by Charles Ballard

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