I Should Have Known Better

Lately, I’ve found myself falling into a very dangerous trap: Thinking I’m caught up with friends because I see what they do online.

I’m not just talking Facebook and Twitter. I saw a friend on Friday night and immediately pointed to her cute high-socks-under-boots look. “I saw your fashion tutorial on Pinterest!” I said.

If you’re not up on this latest Internet sensation, Pinterest is an online pinboard where you can “pin” pretty pictures, or other things that interest you on the web. It’s basically a way to bookmark things online, visually. So, say, if you’re a super-cook, you can pin recipes you want to try. Then, when you’re not sure what to make for dinner tomorrow, you can check in on your “Things I Want To Cook” pinboard. And friends can see what you’re pinning, too. This is social media, afterall.

The same has happened with Goodreads. I’ll do a quick scroll through my latest updates, and see that one friend is reading Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) and another is reading the latest Joan Didion, and suddenly I feel like we’re totally caught up. Knowing what someone is reading feels intimate.

Usually, when I see friend activity online that I want to comment on–she’s marked a book I like as to-read, or he’s traveling to a city where I’ve been and have recommendations–I make a mental note to shoot off an email. But, often enough, that email gets composed in my brain, and never in Gmail. What is wrong with me???

I can be a real homebody. And on the days when I’m curled up on the couch, my first thought is not to reach for the phone and play catch-up. I like lazing around with a book, or Top Chef. And, yes, sometimes I putz around on Facebook et al. But when you realize you only know about your bestie’s recent happenings from a status update or recently added photo album, that’s when you’re in trouble.

I’ve warned against this plenty, so you’d think I would have seen the signs. But the computer makes it so easy. Fifteen minutes of procrastination on Facebook and suddenly I forget I haven’t spoken to my friends in weeks. Oops.

My plan is to try for one phone call a day (at least) for the foreseeable future. Old fashioned voice-to-voice contact. I gotta do it in order to catch up. Otherwise I’m going to find myself lost in the online void, never to be heard from again. It’s a real possibility.

Have you ever found yourself in this position? How do you handle it?


Filed under The Search

9 responses to “I Should Have Known Better

  1. I just got on Pinterest this weekend! It’s fun and pretty addicting, but I don’t feel like watching my friends’ pins is really social contact so hopefully I won’t let that replace talking to them.

    I definitely have friendships where the only way we keep up is through social media. Sometimes I just let it go, but if I’m feeling proactive I usually try to set up a friend date with them so we can catch up.

  2. Well, this is what saddens me. That we feel FB can replace good old speaking in person with someone.

    BTW, have you written before about how friends think they know all about your life by what is said on Facebook, or your blog???? makes me mad actually as that is a verrrrrry brief and sanitised version, right?

  3. Christina

    Seeing what your friends are up to online never really tells the full story. Words, photos, and drawings cannot adequately convey all the author’s feelings and emotions that would be present in spoken language or even in facial expressions. That’s why phone calls or better yet, seeing your friends in person reveals so much more information about what’s really going on in their lives.

  4. katieleigh

    Yep – this happens to me too. And I deal with it similarly – picking up the phone, or writing a good long email. (Most of my besties are far away, so coffee dates aren’t an option – but phone catch-ups are!)

  5. This is so true, and the exact reason I’m not on Facebook. I should be, I’ve got friends around the country as well as bring actively involved with mentoring high schoolers, so I am a perfect candidate for bring post of the Facebook generation. But I know myself well enough to know that if I was I would neglect my relationships in real life. I’m not yet willing to give up feeling the need to call my sister in SoCal because I know what she’s doing on Facebook. So I hear you friend, I hear you.

  6. Anonymous

    I don’t see how you could consider yourself ‘caught up’ from a brief social snippet. You’re getting one trivial piece of information; that can’t be all that’s going on with her?! And, certainly people filter what they share publicly. But, if it reminds you to get in touch, then, that’s good. I find its best to schedule catch-up phone calls with my friends, either via text, a FB message, or a short email. Then, you’ve got the time set aside for a good, long chat and none of that ‘tag your it’ voicemail nonesense.

  7. Marie

    I feel less connected to friends who all I know about them is also on Facebook. FB posts are almost always things you’d talk to an acquaintance about … traffic was horrible today; I bought a new car; I just ate the best sandwich; I’ll be cheering for my college football team this weekend. When I have an actual conversation with my friends we rarely touch on the items that would be posted for all to see. It will be more in depth such as how she negotiated the rock bottom price of her new car or what happened when she ran into her ex at the football game.

  8. Pingback: Why Facebook and I Are Not Friends « Bigger in Real Life

  9. This is exactly why I’m NOT on Face Book. I do not feel it’s a reliable social network. Since texting and Face Book came along, my phone has stopped ringing (and when it does, my husband and I fear it’s bad news!) I have two girlfriends and one relative that I feel comfortable calling, otherwise I hesitate to call someone because I feel like I’m “bothering” people. It’s an awful world we live in, in this day and age.

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