I swore off automated services in the eighties. I prefer interacting with humans. Call it a pet peeve. At the grocery store, I steer clear of the self-check-out line because I enjoy making small talk with the cashier. Granted I’m a woman of little friends these days; my life’s currently mired in blissful domesticity. Thus said social exchanges with strangers fill the void for now. And that’s okay because like all others, this phase one day will too peter out.
And many social media-champions opine that I’m ripe for a thriving online social life---especially since I can’t get out of the house much without kids tagging behind.
But the truth is that each time I log onto Facebook, my heart rate accelerates and palms grow sweaty. I’m stricken with the compulsion to read through days and days of missed earth-shattering “headlines” posted by my almost 400 friends. And God forbid I fail to comment on a photo or like a friend’s 314th inspirational quote.
I only check in sporadically—until real life sucks me back in---and consequently miss out on a lot. And that stresses me out because inadvertently, I offend someone, neglect to nurture a virtual friendship, miss someone’s birthday, or forget to RSVP to an Evite. (Is it really too much nowadays to expect a handwritten invitation through the mail?)
Let’s be honest: all this social media is overwhelming. It’s simply too hard to keep up with information hurled at us at lightning-speed. And what’s even more baffling is that it’s all presented on a platform of important and urgent. It takes real skill to sort through the fluff sometimes.
And when I do need to “talk” as in a two-way exchange that invokes the respective parties’ vocal chords, the phone goes unanswered. (These days seems you need permission and an appointment to invade one’s privacy and phone them.) So what do I do? Conform and surrender and send a private Facebook message or comment on the person’s “wall” to get their attention.
And what’s most disheartening is that despite a concerted effort to avert this looming reality, I too am morphing into an automat. Heck, even my relationship with my spouse has become digitized, demoted into a virtual one five days a week as we text and email back and forth all day long. And as a result, when we do see one another each evening, we languish in awkward silence, incapable of striking up a fresh, meaningful conversation.
Where’s that crackpot scientist and his time machine from the 1985 blockbuster, Back to the Future when you really need it? Don’t know about anyone else, but I want to go back to the days of yesteryear when a thriving social life meant a life rich of flesh-and-blood interactions.
Would it be wildly unpopular or too late to start a “Bring back the eighties” revolution?
Tell me, who’s in?