Social media has become a way of life. The way we communicated with each other in the past has changed. Social media has given everyone a voice. It’s like one of those cars with the giant speakers on the roof that people used to drive around communities to announce upcoming brush-arbor revivals, or spread the word for political candidates.
Except with Facebook you can reach a lot more people and you don’t use as much gas.
Some people use it to express their religious views; others broadcast their political leanings. During the recent Duck Dynasty turmoil, I wanted to jam my head through the screen and hit the delete key.
The best thing about the platform is when folks use it to show off pictures of their kids and grandkids, and to share their accomplishments with their friends. This one I get. I enjoy seeing those pictures and updates too. It’s also a great tool for remembering the birthdays of your friends.
But I started to notice my time spent on Facebook, Google + and other social media sites gradually increased this past year. And when I looked back over my journal, I realized I’d spent less time visiting with my friends.
Pictures and words are fine, but they could never replace gatherings with your friends and family. A keyboard smiley face is a poor substitute for the smiling face of your best friend over dinner.
Before email, the Internet, and Facebook, the only way you communicated with someone was to go see them, or pick up the phone and call them. If the matter wasn’t urgent, you could send them a letter. When is the last time you received a handwritten personal letter delivered to your mailbox?
You couldn’t get the weather or stock prices on the phone we had when I was a kid. In fact, you couldn’t always use it to talk. We were on a party line and we sometimes had to wait until our neighbor Mrs. Hodge was finished talking to her church buddies before we made our call.
Our phone was one of the old black models as big as a toaster and as heavy as a cinderblock. It had a rotary dial the size of a music CD with finger holes in it that you twisted to dial the numbers you wanted to call.
One of my favorite forms of communication we used when I was growing up was front-porch updates. The news called from one front porch to another by a neighbor. Most of the updates came in late evening just after sunset when the lightning bugs twinkled like distant stars.
“Did you hear that John got a job up north? They’ll be moving to Chicago at the end of the month.”
“Bea and Henry David have a new grand baby. Thank goodness they say it don’t look like either one of them.” Which would bring out the laughter.
I know there were the same number hours in the day, but it seems time moved slower back then. I miss those days.
I’ve been thinking about these things the last few weeks, which was the reason behind my New Years resolution to spend more time with friends and loved ones.
In the first few days of 2014, Jilda and I have seen more of our old friends than we have in months.
This Sunday we have a crew of our music buddies coming to our house to break bread, play music and enjoy a little face time.
Rick Watson is a columnist and author. His latest book Life Happens is available on Amazon.com. You can contact him via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.