Warning: I may step on your toes here…
I am taking a class in Conflict Theory and Communication at Abilene Christian University. In a recent discussion, a classmate stated that they thought it was important to always conduct resolutions to conflicts in person. I disagreed. I engage in very little face to face communication. Actually, according to my wireless bill, I engage in very little verbal communication at all.
I prefer to communicate via electronic methods and social networking methods. I find that I am better able to express myself when I write my thoughts as opposed to verbally articulating them. Words get convoluted by emotions and interpretations.
The truth is I’m a control freak.
Through electronic communication, I can control the tone, the direction, the progression and even the conclusion of any conversation. Without nonverbal communication and voice cues to dictate meaning, I control how my words are perceived and I can adjust that perception if need be. If I want to end the dialogue, I simply stop responding and I can always blame network error or signal loss for my unresponsiveness.
I shrink in socially awkward situations. I do so out of fear of rejection, assumption and misunderstanding. Social networking has given me an avenue to disconnect. I can engage my ‘friends’ without ever having to come in contact with them. It’s a beautifully thing for a hermit at heart.
Or is it?
On average, I engage in about five social interactions a month (excluding church, work and familial obligations). This includes dates, lunches with coworkers, dinners with friends and home visits. Five. Maybe six. I check my social network sites five, maybe six times a day.
What is my social networth?
A few years ago, I conducted an experiment. I deleted over six hundred friends from facebook to see how many, if any would notice. Four did. The first to mention it was a friend I made through a friend. I wonder if she even knew my last name. She was the first person I added back. She and I are friends.
Or are we?
We are internet friends. She knows the girl on the page as do I. We’ve never visited each other’s homes or workplaces. We’ve never gotten our kids together for a playdate. We’ve never called each other on the late night to cry over a break up or laugh over a come on. She’s only seen the best pics of me. She has no idea how wild my hair is when I wake up or how insecure I am about my left eye. Yet, I’ve been a good ‘efriend’ to her. I’ve clicked ‘like’ on her posts and commented on her updates. I’ve been a better friend to her on the internet than I’ve been to some in live and in living color. I’ve put more value in our virtual relationship than I have in actual relationships. Ouch.
My experiment was not a fair assessment of my importance to my network. I have been deleted from friend lists and have not realized it or chose not to question it. It didn’t mean I didn’t care.
The girl behind the snack counter at the theatre suggested combo #2. “I’ll have the #1, I don’t need the second medium drink.” She smiled awkwardly.
I’m soaking my feet in epsom salt.