Monday, August 20, 2007

Making friends the old fashioned way

The debate continues as to which is the more effective way of meeting real friends. The (wildly oversimplified) 2.0 model is that I create my profile, look for other people with similar tags, view their profile and commit with a "poke" or an "invite" or whatever the site's technical term is. Alongside the active seeking is the promise that others are doing the same thing and that hopefully we'll meet somewhere in the middle because we both like DIY projects and The Shins second album. I have made some acquaintances this way, been introduced to a few people, mostly to their catchy, clever nicknames, but sometimes to an actual person, a photo they use to represent themselves in the best possible way and, of course, the list of personal beliefs, faves, etc.

Sunday I was at a baby shower. A real one, not virtual or nuthin'. The host family's husband and I struck up a conversation, and wouldn't you know it, Bill (that's his real name) and I laughed, joked, shared concerns about raising kids, sustained uncomfortable pauses, and downed a beer or two. Time passed quickly and we set up the promise to get our families together for dinner without an event attached. All in all, I'd say a solid connection. I only lament that this doesn't happen very often.

So, herein lies the cryptic quandary. Is there a preferred method of actual (dare I use the term out of its 21st century iteration) "social networking"? Is there greater promise to link yourself in to somebody else, to have the Amazon algorithm let you know that people who like Jack and Megan also like..., or to wait it out in hopes of meeting Bill, sharing a beer and laughter without emoticons or acronyms. The smart money is on the technology. Mine's on reality.

Increasingly I find myself longing for real experiences. The further we get engulfed and embedded in advancement, the less I feel connected, (though the more I am). BUT, I wonder if there is room, space, or logic in the idea of making friends the old fashioned way. I'm all for helping someone build a deck and discovering we share the same interests, but the infrequency at which that happens is far from my 21st century liking. I'd rather have the depth of connection at the speed of a tweet. The paradox is both frustrating and understandable. If Ray Kurzweil is to believed, and singularity is inevitable, is it just a matter of time before the overlap takes place? Or will we deliberately regress and learn to value the arts of writing a letter (yes, with a pen and paper! a what?!?!?!), holding a conversation, throwing a dinner party? I don't know.

But the deeper I become entrenched in my self-selected online universe, the more I long for something real and old-fashioned. Slow, inconsistent, unpredictable, but real.

No comments:

the thoughts and opinions expressed below are entirely my own, and are not necessarily shared by my friends, family, or employer. (though they very well might be...)