networking: virtual vs. actual

i am continuing to tug on the thread from last week’s rant.  the debate was about twitter, but social networking is the basis from which the conversation arises.

my birthday was  a little over a week ago (53, for the morbidly curious) and i received several cards in the mail.  i enjoyed the sentiments therein, and filed them in my “special drawer” for future reference (you may not believe this, but i occasionally get calls/emails/notes from detractors who were offended by something i did/said/ate with unwashed hands.  in those instances, my “special drawer” serves as a reminder that somebody, somewhere loves me–paper prozac, if you will).

conversely, i received many more “virtual” birthday greetings than i did postal ones.  is there a lesson there that i should be learning?

look, i am a social networking neanderthal, and that’s okay with me.  i own my computer curmudgeon-hood.  i have a facebook page, but i log on once a week or so.  i’ve never posted a “status update.”  i don’t remember ever “inviting” someone to be my “friend,” but i’ve got 273 (and i realize that in the facebook world, 273 friends isn’t many but i am genuinely grateful for each and every one).   i have never used facebook to wish someone a “happy birthday,” but i received birthday greetings from 41 “friends.”  some were from actual friends, some were from colleagues, some were people i haven’t seen in years and years.  some salutations consisted of two words, and some were festooned with all kinds of cards and cakes and photos.   like i said, i am grateful for each one, but what should i infer from my facebook birthday party with its virtual cake?

hence, the topic of conversation for this week, dear readers.  i have several things to say about social networking (and every other kind of networking, as it happens), but i want to hear what you think.  is it more meaningful to possess the forethought to buy a greeting card at hallmark, lick a stamp, and mail it than to type “happy birthday” on the internet on the day of?  obviously, many of the “friends” who wished me a happy birthday on facebook don’t know me well enough to be expected to send a card (and, again, please don’t think me ungrateful for their efforts), so are they really “friends” or should we invent a new category?  and does it even matter?  or will the long-term effect of social networking undermine other established emotional gestures (and, ultimately, connections)?

weigh in, my friends…or whatever it is that you are.


One thought on “networking: virtual vs. actual

  1. I’m just wondering if I can even call myself your friend at all because I missed your birthday completely. I didn’t even send a Facebook happy birthday comment your way. Failure.

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