My post “Rethinking my connectedness” brought me a couple of comments that I would like to comment on.
First, one from Ira at SpeED Change. After sharing a Twitter story, he said:
We’ve gone from trading quick thoughts, to trading articles, to laughing with each other, to functioning as friends do, though he’s in Virginia and I’m in Michigan, and without Twitter, we’d never known each other at all.
It’s just part of how humans turn tools into services which help sustain us.
Twitter obviously works for him. It helps to sustain him in some way. And Ira is the only one who can say whether or not his tools work for him.
Tools, all tools, serve a purpose. We use them to do something we want or need to do. I don’t have a jackhammer in my garage because I have no need of one. But I do have a shovel and a rake because they are useful to me. If you have a jackhammer in your garage, I assume you have need for one. And that is OK. I wouldn’t want to do your job with my shovel, and I doubt I would want to use your jackhammer in my garden. So I am OK with not all of us using the same tools. What I want is to be as sure as I can be that I am using the right tools for my purposes.
The other comment came from my friend John. I had referred to Facebook as being “Like an RSS feed for my life.”
Do you really need an RSS feed for your life? Would this honestly represent a reduction, or an expansion of your life?
What is our “real life,” anyway? How far disconnected from our physical environment can it get before it becomes a fantasy, an hallucination?
I think that, yes, I can benefit from an RSS feed for my life. I have lived in many different countries and in many parts of the US. My friends live and have lived all over the world. I don’t want to lose touch with them. I want them to still be in my life. My “real life”. So I am happy for things like this blog and Facebook that have allowed me to reconnect with people I haven’t seen in person for many years.
I think real life is whatever we want it to be — at least when it comes to who is in our real lives. My friend Natalie on St. Thomas is very much still in my life although I haven’t seen her since 1993. She doesn’t read my blog. She isn’t on Facebook. We don’t even communicate that often. But she is in my life. That is not fantasy or hallucination. That is love and concern. If I care about someone, they are in my life. Period. So the chance to catch up with them by means of technology is wonderful, as far as I am concerned.
So to me, Facebook is an expansion of my life. I couldn’t possibly see it as a reduction. It means that I will be less likely not to know when a friend gets engaged or graduates or has a grandchild. Is it a substitute for sitting down over a cup of coffee? No. I would always prefer to see these people in person and share our stories. But that isn’t possible in most these cases. So I will settle for this technologically enhanced version of “real life” and be grateful for it.
And again, I am glad to have this blog that occasionally inspires people to comment. It has allowed me to reconnect with people like John, with whom I had pretty much lost touch. And I am grateful to those of you who come to read and maybe leave your comments. You are part of my real life, too.