Have you been playing the games popping up on social media? One involved participants listing a specified number of interesting facts about themselves, and, in turn, each responder was given a number so that they could carry on by giving their own list. More recently, I played the door game. By selecting the door which appeals to you most—the one you would like to step through—you reveal something about your personality. That was fun. Another helped readers determine which Disney character or royal princess (or prince) they most resemble.
These are entertaining things to try and to share with others. We gain insight into the way we think and behave. I love that stuff. During my counseling classes, I took and gave lots of personality, attitude, aptitude and IQ tests. Back in the day, I enjoyed reading the personality profiles connected with each of the zodiac signs… not so much now. Many of us enjoy learning more about ourselves and others, primarily because it helps to create connections.
However, let’s keep in mind those connections made in the virtual world aren’t the same as those in the real world; they aren’t as good. I think of the conversations we have online as disposable. They aren’t retained as long nor are they as meaningful as those we have face-to-face.
Few things feel as warm as hugs shared with church family on Sundays and Wednesdays. Quickly-typed phrases don’t resonate in the ears like carefully-chosen spoken words to a friend in times of sorrow. And, spontaneous smiles cannot be replicated by any emoticon that’s available to us online.
Don’t misunderstand me, please. I think the social media tools available to us today are wonderful resources for connecting (at a certain level) with people all over the world. The applications are great, both personally and professionally, and the world is better because of these tools. But with all things, it is wise to practice moderation in our use of these.
So, in my most Jeff Foxworthy-like voice, let me summarize this way:
If you pee your panties, because you just can’t leave the hilarious banter on FB …
If you forget to pick up your kids, because the old-lady-dancing videos have you spellbound …
If you forget to eat…
Wait; if you forget to eat, you’re really a loon. If the other things apply, you may be slightly crazy and find a diagnosis in the DSM-5 that pertains to you.
In truth, though, if your computer time is cutting into your real-life connection time, maybe it is time to re-evaluate. For few things mean as much as a caring and unrushed phone call, a hand-written note, a pat on the shoulder, or a well-timed gesture of kindness.