How many of you love the show Seinfeld? I still can’t get enough – I watch re-runs. Ever since I was de-friended, and re-friended, and then de-friended again by an acquaintance, I have wanted to write this post. Remember the episode from Seinfeld where Lauren Graham guest starred, and she played Jerry’s girlfriend, and she used speed-dial on her corded home telephone as a barometer for how the relationship was going? Here is a clip of the episode as a refresher in case you don’t have every episode memorized cold like I do: Clip from Season 8, Episode 20 of Seinfeld.
It’s an interesting social, psychological experiment. Wouldn’t it be interesting if we could “rank” our friends on facebook like speed-dial on a telephone? Isn’t facebook, and all social media a kind of speed dial list – we de-friend and re-friend when it suits us. We are #1 one day and off the grid another. The modern-day Seinfeld would certainly include an episode on “friending,” “de-friending,” and perhaps “re-friending.” As I write this, I realize facebook has also created new dictionary terms of unfriending, friending etc. In any case, due to recent events where people have “unfriended” me because some high school friend over 20 years ago is still pissed at me for something I had no idea I did, and because I posted a factual news story about unruly Seattle Seahawks’ fans, or a political post or two, I realize that social media is a new yet analogous barometer for our relationships. When someone deactivates and leaves facebook then, have they simply had enough? I had a “friend” unfollow me on twitter once because of gun control comments in the wake of the Colorado theater shooting. She didn’t just unfollow me though, when I confronted her and apologized, she never replied, and has disappeared from my life forever. We used to send holiday cards to one another. Clearly, social media is not just a modern-day barometer for relationships, it defines them. 30 years ago you knew how your neighbors felt on certain issues but you still attended BBQs with them and broke bread with them. With social media, people meet in person less, and social media posts are the only way to “judge” someone. People feel more comfortable posting things and not saying them to someone’s face directly. When someone like me prefers to be direct, it makes the other person uncomfortable. They disappear completely and “block” me out (literally). It’s an interesting phenomenon.
The new age is referred to by the name, “GENERATION LIKE,” but it goes beyond liking someone’s posts or their photos and re-pinning their pins. Social media is re-defining human interaction. Our relationships are more fragile than ever, because now, instead of depending on in-person interactions with body language, and all the interpersonal skills that come with direct interactions, we have to interpret tone and intent from an E-mail, text message, and/or the limited 140 characters on twitter. From a simple “unfriend” or “unfollow” action, we must conclude, “oh oh that person doesn’t like me.” WHAT!? What am I supposed to do with that? I mean, come on, how much can my brain handle, really. And finally, should I even care? Well, friends, the new barometer on relationships is social media and the simple, meaningless acts which occur on them. Keep it real, folks, and if you want to talk to someone, I recommend just calling, or doing the traditional “pop-in” if they live close by. It is so much easier than losing the friendship over a social media post.
And, let’s not even get into how some may interpret the intent of my blog posts, I’ll save that for another post, or not.