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Is Social Media making us more or less social?

September 25, 2012

I was interested last week to read an article titled  The Unsocial Network on the  Fernwood Fitness  website, asking the question of whether our interaction with social media has made us more or less connected with each other. There’s probably a huge discussion to be had about this topic, which does really interest me. Being in the older age group, most of my friends don’t understand or participate in social media.  Although I do have many friends in my age group who love social media as much as I do.  My friends who are not involved, just  do not  understand my passion for Twitter, Facebook or blogging. Not to mention Google+ Pinterest or Linkedin.  They think that probably I’m just a little bit weird and let me get on with whatever it is that I do.

I first became involved with social media at about the time my marriage  broke down suddenly. I’d been married for 34 years, and lived in the same small city all my life, so I decided that this was the opportunity to move away for a new start in a new town.  Because of the move and the marriage break down, I lost contact with most of my friends. And before I knew it, there I was in a strange city knowing not a single soul.

At the time, my lifeline to the world  was social media. I soon found myself on Facebook and chatting in exercise and healthy lifestyle forums. It wasn’t too long until Twitter also called to me.  Recently I participated in Michelle Bridges 12 Week Body Transformation, an online exercise program.  Due to the 12wbt forums,  I had soon hooked up with members from all over Australia, and have since met many of these lovely people.  I’ve made regular trips to Sydney  over the past few years for exercise sessions and get togethers. Many of us have become very close friends meeting regularly and keeping in constant contact. I would no longer consider these friends to be “online friends”, even though we started out that way. They are just my friends.

But my 12wbt friends are just the tip of the iceberg. There are many, many other friends I have made, most  with an interest in health and fitness. Recently I had a gorgeous holiday on the Gold Coast with about 30 ladies, all over 50, and all interested in health & fitness. I met these ladies online, some on them many years ago.They came from all over Australia and even New Zealand.  We had a fantastic time. Even though I had never met most of them in person.  We just seemed to be old friends. These ladies will also be life long friends.

At the moment I’m planning a trip to Spain to hike the  Camino de Santiago de Compostela Pilgrimage Walk  The plan at the moment is that I am going alone, but there a quite a few of my online friends saying, possibly, may be, could be. So who knows, social media could just bring up more travelling companions. In preparation for the trip, I’m planning on combining my Walking Training  with catching up with my friends, including on line friends. There are groups of girls from all around Melbourne who are planning on walking with me, when I’m in their neck of the woods.

Then there is the genealogy side of my life. I have met so many people online through Genealogy. Last year, I went on a Genealogy Cruise around New Zealand. Before we left, a lovely lady contacted me on Facebook, to ask could we hook up on the cruise and exercise together. This lady Sue, has turned out to be a special friend in my life, and I know she always will be.   My room mate Val, I was introduced to by the cruise organisers, and got to know her quite well through Facebook before we left. The three of us had a fantastic time, and felt as though we had known each other for ages.

Social media has definitely changed the way we interact, but to me this is not a bad thing. I am much more social today, and have many, many , many more friends than I’ve ever had. My life is definitely enhanced with the friendships I’ve made through social media, with many of these friendships going offline into every day life. These friendships have become what we would call more traditional friendships, and don’t rely only on online forums and social media to keep the contact up.

What do you think? Please leave me a comment. I’d love to hear other opinions

  1. A Weekend Note permalink

    I’m so glad to hear the friendships and connections that you have made through social media. As stated in the referred article, you would be a great example of the how a healthy balance of social media can be an enabler of wonderful relationships.
    Social media can connect us in such an immediate way. It’s given us so many other channels in which to create, grow and play out relationships. I do think it’s highly possible that our dependency on smart phones and social networks is holding us back from having face-to-face conversations and not developing what we’d consider as more traditional relationships/friendships? I’d have to think hard about the last friendship I’ve struck up that wasn’t online!
    Thanks for sharing Jennifer and good luck with your hiking adventures.

    • Thanks for you comments. I do agree that social media can be very intrusive in our lives. There is nothing worse than trying to have a conversation with someone who’s attention is taken by their phone. Also I do think it’s difficult to make new friends out in the real world these days.

  2. Pam Longe permalink

    I agree it’s a fantastic way to connect with like minded people and make new friends. I’ve met fantastic people through forums and been to Ironman Australia and met them and worked as a volunteer. I’ve had people come and stay with us I’ve met. I’ve even been to a conference on the Gold Coast when I was a moderator on a forum and am still friends with many of these girls. Even joined a local knitting group from a forum. It also connects me with people I’ve met while living overseas. I think it’s fantastic. Even if it takes a lot of my time 😉

  3. Pam it sounds like your social media experience has been as positive as mine. And don’t forget we met online also on the Bicycle Victoria womens forum. Many years ago.

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