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?