You hear or read it all the time – I’m guilty of saying and believing it myself – computers and the Internet are wreaking havoc on our relationships. Sometimes I giggle and sometimes I sigh, when I see my husband with his Nook, me on my laptop, our oldest playing the Wii and our youngest with his Nintendo DS. (Yes, Mom, we do limit their screen time. That’s a rare, rare, example.)
However, I can also credit the Internet for introducing me to oodles of kindred spirits. A number of them are people I already knew, in the loosest sense of that word: name, occupation, and maybe where they live. Some are even first cousins. But, since life doesn’t always provide a natural segue from saying hello to sharing your love of mismatched buttons, life gave us Pinterest. There’s no need for words or clever conversational shifts, when I can simply click through your boards and see that you like Jane Austen quotes, rooftop gardens, ideas for teacher gifts, and recipes with five ingredients or less.
Facebook, on the other hand, can be all about words and is a great way to see how someone uses them (or abuses them). Yes, it’s social media, but mix-up “your” and “you’re” too many times and I’ll mentally mark you as someone I’d never hire. Step onto your soapbox one too many times and I’ll understand why you have so much time for Facebook and are not interacting with living, breathing individuals. But tell me about your crappy day at work without actually using any of those words (or mentioning which coworker is the inspiration for your second glass of wine) and I’ll add you to my Christmas card list.
I swear, I still can’t see what makes Twitter so attractive (to some). I find many tweets too vague (unless you’ve been following that person for some time). Other tweets have longer hashtags than the tweet itself, in the apparently ongoing quest to #bethemostclevertweeterever. And what does Twitter accomplish that Facebook doesn’t – except conditioning me to say things in 140 characters or less … and we’re back to me with my laptop, my husband with his Nook, our oldest playing the Wii and our youngest on his DS, because the Internet made us this way.