Man Vs. Machine

I realized today that I seem to have gone on a temporary, if not intentional, social media break. I used to fire up the Twitter pretty often, checking in on my virtual friends, posting my latest TV and movie thoughts (Shaq and Cee-Lo should remake Twins!), and saying hello to those readers posting about MWF Seeking BFF.

And then last week I realized I hadn’t checked in on Twitville in a while. The same was true of Facebook. It seemed I was forgetting to post my usual stuff: book news, blog posts, birthday messages. Around the same time, my social calendar had really picked up. For whatever reason, I had a number of new friend dates, old friend catch-ups, and that in-between thing where you try to turn a new friend into an old one.

What I’ve been thinking about (and this is a “duh,” I know) is that there’s only so much time. Even I, who touts the importance of friendship at every turn, also have a career, a marriage and a family to attend to. And now that there seem to be one thousand different ways of socializing–in person! online! via text! via Scramble!–to keep up with, it can all seem to much.

My official ruling is this: Make in-person mandatory, the rest can come and go.

I’m not promoting a social media boycott, or cleanse, or protest. I’m simply saying that when I moved to Chicago and had few local, face-to-face friends and lots of online ones, I was still lonely. But over the last month, while I’ve had tons of friendship face-time and not a lot of online interaction, I’ve been totally socially fulfilled. I haven’t missed social media. I hardly even noticed it was gone.

Online socializing is fun and effective. I’ve connected with new pals I wouldn’t have known otherwise. But it’s extra.  The face-to-face is where it’s at.

I’m going to get myself back in the throes of Twitter and Facebook asap. It’s not going anywhere. But I’ve made my choice: In the battle of man versus machine, I choose man.

What about you?


Filed under The Search

63 responses to “Man Vs. Machine

  1. Jocelyn

    On a related note, my team used to have a meeting where everyone called in from their desks, because 2 people were remote. Yet…10 of us were in the office! (Typical engineers, we are.) When I started I asked the manager why we didn’t have it face-to-face, and it was like the thought never occurred to him. Now we hold our meetings in the conference room and dial in the remote people. So much more is communicated in person than on the telephone or email–the chit chat, jokes, and smiles while you’re waiting for everyone to assemble, there’s no equivalent on a conference call.

  2. On Line socialization is O.K., I enjoy it from time to time. But, I think it can get way out of hand to the point where it is Bad. About six months ago I bought my wife an iPad to replace her aging Mac. When she had her Mac, she typically checked her e-mail, did a little FaceBook, and then settled in for the evening with some TV and interesting conversations with me. Now, however, is a different story. She can be on that iPad for five hours a night doing all the social interaction. I feel like a social media widower.

  3. In the past 3 weeks I quit posting regularly on my blog just to see what would happen, to see if I missed it. I quickly realized that what i thought was so real and essential was not. Nobody really even notices you’re gone…it’s been helpful to see how so much of the thrill of it is in my own head. Real life is where it’s at – I’m happy for you 😉

  4. Anne

    While I understand your point and everyone’s agreement, I am someone who feels disconnected when my friends go MIA on social media. Facebook keeps me in touch with my friends that I don’t live nearby and I can see the new haircut and she can see my puppy and I can see our mutual friends’ video of her baby taking her first steps… When my friends take a FB break or decide they don’t want to do it anymore, they are out of the loop on my life and I feel behind on theirs too. We don’t have the luxury of catching up in person. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to have an online presence and it’s just as important to maintain those relationships.

    • I agree with you on his one, especially with friends who have moved too far away that seeing one another face-to-face simply isn’t an option. FB has allowed me to stay close with many of the friends, and stay up-to-date on the little things going on in their life that I would otherwise miss out on.

  5. I will always prefer face-to-face, but the benefit of social media and the effect of it became clear when one of my BFFs deleted her account. We don’t live in the same city, and her busy homelife makes it impossible to have the face-to-face, so suddenly, she went from a BFF that I saw daily to someone I’m not sure if I would recognize her if I saw her at the mall. It seems a superficial and silly thing, but social media can be really useful in determining to what extent, or even IF, someone wants to be part of your life.

  6. As someone who has recently begun a year of sobriety coupled with quitting cigarettes a few weeks ago…I can tell you that social media is a decent substitute for real friendships. I am just avoiding contact with the outside world right now and social media keeps me from falling off the friend radar entirely. But I could see how it could become a habit.

  7. I totally agree with this sentiment! There’s a parabolic curve of what is gained/lost by using social media, but the deepest understanding seems to come from the stuff in person!

  8. This is so true and it’s really good to be reminded of it even if we all know it deep down!

  9. Reblogged this on A Slammin' Adventure and commented:
    Earlier this week I flew back to Alaska where I am working longer hours and catching up with friends, face to face. And I am neglecting my blog in the process. I’ve been feeling guilty about not using my time more wisely, squeezing in a few posts during the week and writing a new edition of ‘Flash Back Friday’, the time I felt should have been putting into my writing, but this morning I read a blog I follow and I forgave myself. If it truly is a choice of Man v/s Machine – I choose man (and woman) while I am here and have the opportunity to connect face to face.

  10. This post struck a real cord with me, so I re-blogged it on my own site (which I have been neglecting this week in order to spend my time in other ways, like connecting with people face to face).

  11. Gomotsegang Motswatswe

    funny you should write such.i cant even begin to count the number of times i have attempted to boycott social not as attached but have failed to go a day without.go lacking when it comes to socialising and i realise that online relations aren’t personal,which makes actual physical interactions much more important

  12. I am new to the blog world and find that it can already take up a lot of time. The writing is the part enjoy, but without warning I find myself glued to my computer going through all of my social sites and favorite blogs for the next inspiration. I recently saw a few blogist that I admire showing pictures of them out and about among live people to get their fresh new content. I think that is one way to be inspired. So that is what I will do. I will get out there amongst the living.

    • Thanks for your post. I am all for a media fast once in awhile. I was at a cafe the other day doing some writing and a man sitting across from me jokingly said to me and a woman working on her laptop that we could all talk on Face Time. I said we are already having Face Time- real face to face time. That generated a nice chat which reminded me to take time to engage more with the people around me rather than those in my virtual world. Both are good but I do agree with you, man or woman over machine wins.

    • The real world is where I get 100% of the content and inspiration for my blog. Sometimes my blog will even force me to take a walk and interact with real people so that I have something to write about. My web presence forces me to go out and have more real world presence. Have fun out there with the living-maybe I’ll see you!

  13. I’m new to all this social media too … blogging, twitter etc. I’m pretty excited about all the new stuff I’m learning but it definitely is time consuming. May have to schedule computer hours and try stick to them. It’ll be hard, there’s a world of exciting info out there!!!

  14. I find I’m spending approx 3 hours a day keeping up with online stuff (blogs, Facebook, e mails) and I’m just about coping (which is why I refuse to join Twitter….I think that would just about tip me over the edge lol).

    The problem is the guilt I feel, if I don’t reply to that Facebook message, or a comment on my blog. I just can’t get away from that 😦


  15. dh2b

    Maybe what we’re experiencing is that process of achieving balance.

  16. I couldn’t agree with you more. When I was single I had tons of online interactions but I felt a bit lonely. After I met my husband and we gor busy with the family life my online interactions decreased. On the same token, whenever I have problems with my husband and I start to feel a bit lonely, my online interactions pick up. So perhaps there is a direct correlation between loneliness and online communication. Maybe when we feel lonely we feel the need to reach out to our virtual friends since we believe those cannot let us down. Just a thought. You have given me an idea for a post! Thanks for the thought Rachel!

  17. Amy

    I absolutely agree. I’ve been keeping up with facebook but not so much twitter lately. I utilize my lists and mostly just keep up with certain people! I get tired of the drivel! I read only a few blogs and love to write my own but the face to face world wins out. Social media is an enhancement.

  18. wewordsmiths (!) Yes twittwits & Xf2f Facebookies, there IS a place to go on the Web to get off the Web. This space is, where realtime & facetime start up wherever and whenever you are. If you are interesting, there is an interest for you, personal, professional, or even (yuck) political…..

  19. Rachel…I agree partially…first, it was possible to know about you just in an online tool that is blogging…when I begin blogging I was worried cause I don’t participate in Twitter, Facebook and so on…blogging in WordPress is a wonderful initiative of myself and it’s being a very important experience…I ‘ve read your book last week! and is a very interesting this regard the writer practice is fundamental…in your blog You use another tools like the recent video, but writing and publishing is the ground…in my blog I only use words, words and words…and I wrote yesterday a very very valuable insight just in the direction of your recent post: skin is the deepest of our soul…this insight and outsight is derived from a personal elaboration od a quote by Paul Valéry:’the deespest part of he human being is the skin’…some like this from my translation from french…face-to-face and the presential convivence is the ground for frinedship…online convivence and presential convivence are both important in nowadays world…internet is only a tool…who manege the internet gives the tune…

  20. There are days I’m online and at the computer and I don’t interact with ANYONE unless I force myself to go out and have dinner with a friend or spend time with folks I don’t see very often. Then when we are out, I make it a point to leave my phone in my purse or face down on the table so I’m not tempted to check email, Facebook or Twitter! It’s crazy. I go through self-imposed breaks as well – good for the soul. 🙂

  21. I couldn´t agree more! One of the critical aspects of face to face interaction, whether with friends, or colleagues or whatever, is the fact that you have the non verbal communication going on in the background which completely enhancers and improves the quality of the communication and interaction that you have. I agree with your official ruling and it is good to see someone hasn´t forgotten why we are here in the first place in this virtual world that we live in!


  22. When you don’t have friends because you’ve moved too often, social networking is the way to go. Before I started blogging I was often lonely, now not so much. I find it difficult to make friends in the outside world because I am so shy, much easier here.

  23. Anonymous

    Totally agree and coincidentally has reached the same conclusion only last night. Bravo to you as reality should always triumph over cyber reality. Living in the real world said Neo is so much more real than in the machine world.

    Capt. Savage

    • I respect all opinions and experiences, but I emphasize that real world and machine / digital world are the same faces of the one world. I realize that there’s no difference in essence,

  24. Rachel : From the other side of the known world, on the positive side tech permits me to say I agree , and celebrate your take on the matter, as much that inspired me on my blog today, and as I wrote a few weeks ago, we must strive to make this a Human tech…and that is a daily task.

  25. Greetings!

    I couldn’t agree more. I call it a vacation-from-my-laptop as I find that I need to just sit in my cave, and enjoy the simple pleasures of life. Once my semi-introverted self is recharged, I’m back out extroverting myself again to the readers who, in many ways, have provided deeper support than my friends who, I love, but often I can’t share deep dark fears with. It’s like we’re in a society that promotes optimism over realism at times. I like to blend both. Realistic optimism. But in order to do that, need to vent my fears and frustrations with an audience, whom, are often even wiser and more supportive than my own collective circle at times.

    As in, in-person friends are great, but are often chosen due to proximity and location. Online friends are matched based on genuine interest in getting to know you, regardless of distance. And oftentimes too, it is more difficult to share who we really are past the facade of what we try to present in person.

    Thank you for sharing. 😀 E-vacations are totally healthy! 😀


    • there is one world in two forms…or more than two forms…there is no contradiction in living in various worlds…I see a brand-new world…I always see a brand-new world: loving

      • Wooo.. thank you for sharing! Yes, it’s definitely about managing one’s time between both. I feel like Neo in the Matrix, unplugging and plugging myself into two realities. Thank you for replying with your insight. Loving, across all forums. No limits on how much one can share. 😀


        • I published my first book…a romance…on 2001…and internet offer the opportunity for sharing regardless where we live…one world in various shapes

          • Woo! I’ll definitely need to learn more as one of my friends is trying to understand the world of publishing. Please feel free to advise! 😀


            • I published my first book – a romace – in traditional way…presentation from a writer…seek the editor…it is hard to publish today in this way…I have my second and third books done…first is another romance…the second is a collection of essays, but I feel that blogging has in this realm a source of a book too…what do you think? thank you very much for visiting my blog

              • Thank you so much for replying to all my comments. This is great insight indeed! And you’re absolutely write, blogging is a source for a book too. Thank you for sharing all your realms!


            • Pink Ninjabi…a sound name…I advise you, but I published in traditional way…presentation from another writer…look a editor…the cost is a duty free…publisihing my first book, a romance, is till now a grat experience…regardless ebooks of today…I like to touch the book

        • thank you too Pink Ninjabi

    • I think the balance between social media & real face time is the goal here. In today’s society, I don’t think we can get our needs met by just one. There is too much information out there to just be satisfied with a small circle of “face to face” friends (this may have worked back when there wasn’t world wide coverage of every incident, so mainly you & your friends were concerned with local issues). The balance between the 2 seems to be the conundrum.

  26. I just read through the tips for increasing your blog audience you’ve written. They are really helpful and thankyou =)

  27. speaksoeasy

    I took 7 months off of “the Book” and it was the best decision I’ve made among several others. During that time I was able to reconnect with real-life friends, start writing and pursue a million other things for the sake of myself and not to just post updates. Now that I’m back on “the Book” I have a much better appreciation for the place social media has in my life and am able to enter into it with more clarity and leave it with less anxiety 🙂

  28. Kara

    I too unintentionally went on a social media break and I do have to say it felt great! Is it right to learn about babies being born, people getting engaged and various other monumental events my FB friends are experiencing through a computer!? If it wasn’t for FB I would never even know some of these things…considering my 191 FB friends are not what I would call “friends.” They are acquaintances. I miss the good ole’ days when my gf’s and I would spend hours on the phone, talking, joking, being silly! Granted I am older now and time is minimal, but not only is face-time lacking, but phone time is too! My biggest pet peeve is when I call someone and then they start texting back. If I wanted to text, I would text! Are we loosing the ability to hold conversations? I’m guilty of it too though, after a long day at the office, who wants to chit-chat on the phone when you have to go to the gym, stop at the grocery store, kids, significant other, etc. I think we all need to converse more not only face to face, but via phone goes a long way too!

  29. Nicki

    2 month ago I cleaned my FB it was just to much drama and now I only go ones a week to see whats new… I noticed FB is getting boring. I tried Twitter but I don’t like it. I rather talk on the phone lol ore see friends in person. in the beginning it was fun and new… now its not fun anymore.. and you can say the itch is gone to be all the time on FB… yep i am FB tired lol

  30. I just deactivate my FB account last week. I realized for a mother of 2 daughters like me, FB seems to get my time away from my children. FB connects me with my old friends but at the same time disconnect me with my closest ones.

  31. Sherry White

    Agreed! It’s ridiculous that I have to find out what’s going on in my kids’ lives by signing into F/B—come on already! Is the woman who birthed you, raised you and stood by you through your entire life NOT worth a phone call? ? My social media days may be numbered……

  32. Always (wo)man 🙂 Social media is good but could not substitute human relationships… NEVER!!!

  33. My daughter married 4 years ago and moved to Chicago. She’s busy in graduate school. I found out from her mother-in-law that if I want to know what is going on with my “kids” I need to get on FB with her. I did and now feel like I know at least something about what is going on in her life from time to time. Mostly she posts pictures. Of course I’d rather get phone calls, but not everyone is super-verbal…especially scientists. Griping about how she doesn’t call me would probably make sure she never did. So I guess I have to believe that if you want to be closer to people you care about you have to use the media that works for the 2 of you, whatever it is. PS Facebook works great for friends in foreign countries in very different time zones.

    • I think each generation gets a little more non-verbal. I have 10 kids (combined), scattered all over the place & would never know what is happening with any of them if I didn’t stay up to day with FB.

  34. Sharita

    Social media is a great way to stay in touch with people, to engage with other people and to get to know other people who you normally wouldn’t have met for several reasons, because some people don’t live in your neighbourhood, normally you would avoid them because their appearance doesn’t appeal to you, simply because they don’t hang out in the same peer group etc…These days I wouldn’t choose between man or social machine. Because man can also let you down. Finding balance is the trick. Have you read my post about friendship?

  35. Timothy Judd

    “And now that there seem to be one thousand different ways of socializing–in person! online! via text! via Scramble!–to keep up with, it can all seem to much.”

    -Somebody needs to come along and invent a social media “funnel” of sorts that routs all text / voicemails / tweets / FB updates / etc. into one single social media package delivered to your email (which you can respond to via email). Because, as you say, it’s too much to keep up with. And all these different social media options… are they really necessary? No! You said so yourself, you didn’t miss it at all. I know I haven’t either, when I drop off the grid and I bet the majority of people would agree. Anyway, I’ve been thinking about this funneling of social media for awhile, but lack the technical ability to do it. Seems like Google+ has a similar idea (although not entirely the same) with the circles concept where you can funnel certain updates to certain contacts. I like that, but it would be great to connect all forms of SM and funnel all broadcasts into one spot (an email acct) that you can check at your leisure.

    Anyway, that was kind of a long ramble on my part – sorry! But, good post. Thanks,

  36. Thanks for this post. You got me thinking. You are right and I love that rule of in-person being mandatory. During those times I’ve been off traveling and having fun, I don’t miss my social media. I only miss it when I’m sitting at home being anti-social and I have to agree that it’s much less fulfilling than in-person. However, I also gain quite a bit of inspiration from my group of friends on FB who are out there doing the same work I do. Balance is key and listening to my insides that will tell me what is needed.

  37. Excellent read, I just passed this onto a friend who was doing
    a little research on that. And he just bought me lunch because
    I found it for him smile Therefore let me rephrase that: Thanks
    for lunch!

  38. Appreciate thiss blog post

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