Obviously I love technology. I’m a regular blogger, a lover of Twitter, and my iPhone might as well be surgically attached to my hand I have so much trouble putting it down. I’m not proud of this. I know it annoys my husband, that’s for sure.
I say this all as a preface to this post, to make clear I know I’m partly (largely?) to blame.
Now that that’s out of the way…
I’ve noticed recently that I’m having a friendship problem I never would have encountered when I made friends the first few times around–in high school, summer camp, college. Here goes: Some of my new friendships have become so dependent on email/IM/facebook/text as a means of communication that we’ve lost our face-to-face social skills.
I have a handful of friends with whom I can endlessly banter via one of these techy mediums–our emails are witty! our texts are poetic!–but in person it is simply awkward silence. We’ve developed relationships so dependent on technology and that backlit screen buffer that when we’re just sitting at lunch, face-to-face with nothing to shield us but our turkey sandwiches, we don’t know what to say. Screens have backspace buttons and buy you time. Conversation gives you one shot to say the right thing, and if you don’t, there’s no way to delete it. You’re stuck.
What’s frustrating is that these slightly tension-filled get-togethers are so hard to understand. Everything is perfect online, why can’t we be the same in person? What’s holding us back? It feels like an elephant at the lunch table.
I was at such a meal last week, and I almost thought aloud, “Weird that we suddenly have nothing to say.” It seemed one of those unnecessary verbal gaffes that could only make an awkward moment moreso. Remarkably, I contained myself.
I love emailing. Writing is my medium, so I really do like getting to know someone over a letter–even if it’s an electronic one. But I don’t think that my being a journalist is what’s causing the problem. I think we’re all just adjusting to the decreasing emphasis put on face-to-face interaction, eye contact, and personal attention.
So, please share, is it just me? Or have you found yourself stuck at a lunch, wishing you could text your friend-date from across table, just to break the ice?