Wednesday, 2 February 2011

There is no substitute for being there

With the explosion of online communication and social networking, it almost seems that other ‘conventional’ ways of engaging with loved-ones, friends, colleagues and strangers are being forgotten. How often do we choose to send a text message, when it might be more thoughtful to pick up the phone? An e-card, when it would be much nicer to take the time to write a real card? Or the ultimate copout, when we compose a lengthy email instead of walking across the office to talk to a colleague or probably even worse, substitute a visit to friends and family with a ‘loving email’!

Social networking sites can also add to the problem by creating an impression of closeness to family and friends, because we appear to have an insight into what everyone is doing – but does that really substitute for quality time together?

Now don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of both social and professional networks, I send my share of texts and am often accused of being an email junky. But I am sure we have to get the balance right. And maybe it is incumbent on our networks to do more to remind us of the importance of face-to-face time with family and friends? Perhaps in the same way that FourSquare promotes and rewards users for visiting places, someone should be rewarding people for meeting?

These thoughts were prompted by a recent radio programme. A woman was discussing how important her online life was to her, but when her sister went into labour there was only one way to really support her – by being there.

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