The DIS-Connected Family

Are you more connected to your phone than you are to your family? It is entirely possible to be in the same room and not BE in the same room. I have to admit I love the age we live in right now, from a technology and access to information standpoint.

By self-declaration, I am a proud and unabashed maven of gadgets, whiz bang toys and oh, I can’t forget about cell phones…I l-o-o-v-v-e new cell phones. To put it bluntly, I am a techno geek.

I got to thinking the other day about this whole “social” media phenomenon and how people have become so engulfed in communicating this way, anonymously, without actual human contact, seemingly without restrictions or boundaries.

Earlier this year, a study came out declaring people visited Facebook, one of the most popular “social” media sites nearly 1.2 billion times a month, MySpace more than 810-million times a month and Twitter more than half a billion times during a typical 30-day period. That’s a lot of visits and a lot of time behind a computer screen for a lot of people.  Have we become so connected that we are disconnected?

As a techno geek, I will be the first to admit there are wonderful advantages to “social” media. There is the ease of connecting with people from all over the world, known and unknown. There is the impact that can be made on behalf of specific causes or bringing attention to the heroic or dastardly actions of specific people. There is the idea of giving a voice to the common man (and/or woman).

But, one of the things that drives me batty about this whole phenomenon is that many people have become lost in their virtual selves, at the expense of their real selves. Many, not all, have more courage to be strong, powerful or assertive, when no one can see them, like when they are sitting safely behind a computer in the middle of the night.

I had the pleasure of attending a Social Media Club Detroit event recently where the Un-Marketer himself, Scott Stratten talked to a group for a good while about the social media phenomenon.  He stressed the importance of being engaged in this whole social media space, being authentic and being committed to it. Online, like we do many times in other areas of our lives, we want all of the benefits, without putting in the work.  We try to be fake-witty, fake-funny and just fake, all to boost our follower counts or online “friends.” I for one, really enjoyed the event (and got a copy of his new book Un-Marketing to boot). A really good group and a great speaker.

Like any and everything out there, there are good uses for the  “social media thing” and abuses. What is the term we hear so much – “too much of a good thing…?” At times, it seems the one thing “social” media is not being, is truly social. Is it authentic to be one person online and someone else in your daily life? Can you really grow as a person, if you loose the ability to interact face-to-face?

Don’t misunderstand me. As someone immersed in social media at all hours of the day, I get it. But, I also work just as hard (if not harder) on building interpersonal, face-to-face relationships too.  Getting out of the house, putting down the always-connected appendage usually in my hand (mobile phone/iPad/screen) and remote-access wireless card and actually interacting with people for no other reason than to, “keep it human (real).”

There are people that will sit down in front of you, but not be able to put down that device, without going through withdrawals.  Nothing is more annoying than being in a meeting, or at a meal, or with your family and while you are there in the flesh, you are not totally there.

I am declaring today to be engaged, put that thing down and interact.  How about it?  Take the pledge:

I, _______________ declare to be present and actually engage with real people more consistently, beginning today.  I will not let Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, phone calls, Blackberry, an iPad (although, I love mine), Blackberry, game systems or any other device separate me from human interaction.  While I completely understand that work is important and emergencies do arise from time to time, family and friends are worthy of my full attention and deserve every ounce of that attention when I am in their presence.

Technology is good, but a smile, a hug and a handshake ain’t that bad either.

Now, get out there and interact.

The musical selection this time is pretty obvious…The B-52’s, enjoy!

Author: Jespy

Grateful husband, happy father, passionate believer, PR geek and social media citizen,

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  • Beckie

    Jerome, I am printing this blog and keeping it. I whole heartedly agree that I love all of the social advantages available through this new age, but I miss being able to just be engaged in a real conversation with friends or family without being distracted by texting or tweeting. Even though I get it, sometimes it makes me want to cry out – Hey, you’re spending time with me now, you can get to “them” later.
    Great post – thank you.

    Beckie

    • Anonymous

      Great insight. I love that we can connect (with the tools), but hate what it has done to face-to-face.

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  • http://nikkistephan.com Nikki Stephan

    Hi Jerome,

    Sorry I didn’t get to meet you at the SMCD event. The human touch does frequently get lost amid the digital-crazed world so many of us are enveloped in. We all need to do a better job of getting back to basics and remembering that connecting in person is just as important as connecting online. I am taking the pledge with you!

    Nikki
    @EstrellaBella10

    • http://JeromeEspy.com Jespy

      Sorry I missed meeting you. Have to put a name with a face at some smcd event, Brand Camp or 140. Thanks for reading, adding and taking the pledge.

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