Saturday, October 9, 2010

Facebook: The new Hallmark?

 Sure, it is no secret that our society has become less personally interactive when we have tools to work with like social media.  Who needs to make a call when we can announce that our kid made honor roll or we enjoyed a great wedding via status update?  Could Alexander Graham Bell or Hallmark know their creations would one day be so drastically antiquated?  I feel compelled to ask- since when did it become socially acceptable to simply 'post' a few consoling words to a friend struck with a loss?  When did we stop sending cards to a loved one in the midst of an illness and instead only write on their wall?  Do we just Facebook Grandma after her hip replacement instead of calling? Is it now socially acceptable that in lieu of hospital visits to loved one's bedsides we send a message?

I should have prefaced that I am a fan of Facebook.  It is especially fantastic to connect with those who live such great distances.  I may miss out on a lot that happens in Idaho, Michigan & Spain if it weren't for Facebook.  I initially signed on as a means to supervise my teenager's activity.  I was surprised to find out how interesting this 'social media' thing was.  I was also surprised to find that so many of my friends has long since discovered the entertainment factor of Facebook and that I was actually a few steps behind.  It has its' pitfalls as well.  It can be a huge waste of time.  I am guilty of becoming a farmer and fulfilling morbid curiosity about friends from the past.  It has replaced much of the television I used to watch to wind down.  It actually has replaced an awful lot.

When I was recently admitted to the hospital, having access to wi-fi enabled me to shout out from my hospital bed.  I immediately felt I gained support, prayer and encouragement.  I didn't have to proceed to make 6 phone calls about how I needed to excuse myself from a list of impending commitments.  One status update and that was all taken care of. 

However, when my infant niece was admitted to the hospital at only three weeks old, the support of Facebook friends poured in from everywhere but the visitors they received were few.  VERY few.  They spent 14 days in the hospital tired, scared and emotionally drained.  Surely someone would show up with a plate full of cookies and a smile.  That's what hospital visits do.  But I think somehow, we feel comfortable with a quick word of encouragement on a computer screen and our efforts stop there.  Don't get me wrong, there is something to be said for an almost instantaneous, online outpouring of love, but I think it has also made some of us lazy--like a click of our mouse is good enough

Lately, there have been some very serious situations among my Facebook friends that I believe require a tad more of an emotional investment that a two-second post.  I don't argue the convenience of a live feed, but there are some things that touch people in a way that Facebook never can and I think it involves a card, envelope and stamp.  My friend, Olivia, is one of the most thoughtful people I know.  She sends cards frequently.  I know she not only does this for me, but for others as well.  She makes people feel special and I know it takes time to do this.  With every card she sends, it still feels special to open and read what is inside no matter how many she has sent before.  I truly appreciate the effort Olivia takes.

We also had a few friends kind enough to bring meals for us during the last month.  Has there ever been anything so thoughtful than to provide a meal for someone who doesn't feel well enough to make it?  And I worry, Facebook, because even though I am a very busy wife and mother, I want people to know that I care & love them beyond a two sentence post to their wall.  I know I have become guilty of only going that far lately and I know that I am not the only one.

 Afterall, what good is 275 Facebook friends if none call, visit or send a card?  As for me, instead of only wasting precious energy clicking on the "like" button of someone's post, I will dust off the stamps in my drawer and put them to good use right after I oil the hinges of my mailbox.

2 comments:

  1. Well done!! I agree and I will dust off my stamps, go visit a sick friend, etc.

    Your writing is awesome!!!

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  2. My friend Cathy V (and your friend too) sent me your link -- I used to live in her neighborhood and after I wrote a FB post about people being so lazy they don't even comment anymore -- they just hit the LIKE button, she sent me your blog link knowing I would like this! As a blogger too, and a person who DOES still send cards and try to reach out on a personal note, I LOVE what you have said here! Thanks for the great reminder!

    Stephanie aka MaNiC MoMMy

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