I’m gonna ramble for a bit, but I’ll eventually make my point.
I don’t have any “Facebook” friends. I just have friends. Pretty much all of them are online. Or to say it another way; if we are friends on Facebook, it’s because I decided that I genuinely like you. We are friends.
I can count on one hand the people I truly care about that I’m not connected to through social networks. My dad. My grandmother… I’m finished counting. Everyone else is online, and online is mostly how I stay in touch with them.
Last month, a few of my friends all happened to make it to Chicago in the same week. Online is great, but face to face is even better. In the span of just a few days, I was lucky enough to have lunch with Bill Lublin, drinks with Heather Elias and dinner with Kelley Koehler. One great thing about reconnecting face to face with each of them was how quickly we slipped right into casual conversations. There was very little catching up to do because that part of our friendships is largely maintained online. In fact, much of the conversation Bill and I had was sparked by a comment I had made on Facebook the night before. I met Kelley, Heather and Bill online before I met them in person. Actually, I have a couple dozen close friends that began as online connections. My wife and I also connected online, just before we met in person.
@tcar Congrats and welcome! I’m looking forward to working with you.
— Pamela Carpenter (@pvcarpenter) February 26, 2009
During the same week my friends were in town, my wife and I went to the theatre for a musical. While we were getting settled in our seats, Pamela was texting back and forth with a friend. Usually this would be somewhat annoying on a date night, but she was texting with someone who had just moved across the country. It was a big deal for my wife and a bigger deal for her friend. Yeah, it was date night, but was it really such a big deal that she was on her phone for a few minutes? Nope.
Life’s too short.
Back in January, my uncle Jerry passed away. He was a significant role model in my life. When I was a kid, he ran a family business that we all were a part of. Some measure of my business and leadership acumen can be attributed to him and I’m so thankful he was a part of my life.
I have a nephew who was born just over a year ago. As he lives in Colorado, and I live in Chicago, I’ve only seen him in person a few times. One of those times was at my uncle’s recent funeral. Perhaps the hardest part of living away from home is that absence of face time with family. This is especially true concerning my new nephew. For me to be any kind of role model to him… 800 miles away, I will have to figure out how to do it online.
I said all that to say this…
From time to time, I go to a dinner party where someone has the bright idea to stack phones. I’m that guy who won’t play along. I just think you shouldn’t expect the undivided attention of the people sitting across from you, just because they are across from you. Sometimes, the person on the other side of that phone really is more important. At least for a few minutes. Stop being so selfish.
and to say this…
A Friend of mine published this video the other day.
It’s a witty use of the spoken word and the guy has an English accent to boot. What’s not to like? I can see why people want to rally around it. I also think he’s waxing poetic about how we all interacted with each other before we had smartphones… but look, I get it. Stop and smell the roses. Don’t spend all your time on your phone. It’s a balance. Blah, blah, blah…
Maybe the relationships that guy built online are largely very shallow. Mine are not. All of my closest friends and all of my family live in different time zones. I don’t waste time on “Facebook” friends because I’m too busy using Facebook to stay connected to people I actually care about.
I don’t spend *all* my time on my phone, but please understand this. If you do see me on my phone, I’m probably texting with my wife, or reading a Facebook post about my nephew, or interacting with a good friend or family member… and to be honest, if you really feel like have to ask, then yes, they probably are more important to me then you are.
So, no… I’m not going to put my phone down.