Social Age – The Good, the Bad, and How to Live in It

Last week, I talked with a group of high schoolers about social media and how we use it to network together, and since then I’ve thought more about my own involvement online – and the constant battle with this new ‘social age’ we’ve entered. Our lives are changing as we rapidly move into a digitally networked age, far removed from the relational living I find in my friends around the globe.

I’d like to think I’m fairly competent online, familiar (and learning more all the time) about both professional and personal networking. But at first, it’s a little overwhelming – feeling so pulled in multiple direction with many conversations happening all at once, that we feel quickly that we have no time for the relationships right in front of us. And so many of our initial responses is to want to UNPLUG from everything. Get back to the basics (and I’d encourage you to make that priority sometimes!) It’s either that, or we become so dependent on our social tools that they consume us. (An extreme either way often leaves us looking like the picture above!) But as with all things in life, I believe the answer lies here:

Balance it.

Social networking – via Facebook, texting, Twitter, Blogging, Pinterest, LinkedIn and a myriad of other avenues – can be great tools at bringing our worlds closer together. They can also drive us further apart from the people in our daily lives. If we fail, at any time, to know how to do this – real conversations with real people – then we’ve messed up something. This is, after all, the purpose and goal of our online networking, isn’t it? To foster better, more connected relationships?

As with many things, I find myself looking at those I’ve met along life’s journey, for it’s here I often find a refreshingly DIFFERENT perspective. I am most humbled when I’m with women like this, who live in a different culture far less infused with screens and cords. It is here that I remember the value of REAL time relationships, and the value of living life WITH others. And this – this is beautiful.

All the social networking in the world doesn’t replace connections like this. And so I linger, using social networking even now, as an outlet for discussion because it’s still part of my world. But realizing that it comes at a bit of a cost.

I guess my point in this is a reminder to myself to balance my time and communications with others. I see this generation, and our entire culture moving more and more towards a completely digital connection, and I am grateful I see it. Not so I can worry about it, or wonder at the effects it will have, but to look at it honestly, and set up the balances now.

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