Five years ago when I first ventured onto the wider world of the web, it was possible to communicate, to reach out for that little bit of friendship via e-mail, blogs, social networks, but no more.
Unfortunately, all that is possible now is a glancing blow at acquaintanceship. Mass communication is not friendship anymore than listening to a song on the radio is connection with the songwriter. Friendship is not developed through posting a status for your 900 nearest and dearest to read in a public forum.
Each day I find myself more discouraged and lonely as my friends all rush from blog to blog and post on various social network sites, trying to keep up with the electronic overload. No longer is there time to have a conversation, to share ideas or information or personal updates. Life is now a stream of carefully crafted messages that are supposed to serve all purposes, both public and private.
I remember a time, just a short while ago when friending was confined to the important few that shared both joys and sorrows. Now, friends have no idea what is going on in each other's lives. How can they? There is no time to listen (or read).
Am I the only one feeling the disconnect--the sense of isolation? Perhaps the lure of fabricated friendship is all we need? Or are we content with the fallacy of the social network because we aren't expected to reveal our true selves. No expectation = no risk. We can be anyone we want to be. Who will care? After all, most of our electronic friends are also illusions.
I scrolled through my friends the other day on Facebook. Of the lengthy list, I believe I can positively identify fifty. Of those, I actually communicate with about ten. That is not friendship. Or linking. Or conversation. That is a false construct based on electronic impulses.
After some soul-searching I've decided to dial it all back. If I haven't heard from you/connected with you in any meaningful way in the last thirty days, I'll be unfriending you. Likely, you won't miss me. From now on, I will not friend you unless you can show good cause for me to include you in my network. By the way, trying to sell me something is not "good cause".
Professional information will be posted on my website. The random thoughts I may have will be posted on my blog. And if you want a conversation... why I believe e-mail or IMing still work.
As of today, I plan to unlink, unplug, and drop out of the rat race so I can enjoy a kinder, gentler world.