The techno buffet

Published 10:44 pm Friday, May 29, 2009

I hear the question everyday. I hear it at work. I hear it when I walk down the street while involuntarily eavesdropping on conversations on cell phones. I even hear it in my sleep these days. “Are you on Facebook?”

No, I am not. And I’ll tell you why.

First of all, I get it. The whole online networking and supposedly staying connected with friends and loved ones thing is not alien to me. I just have absolutely no need for it in my life. I spend perhaps 12 to 14 hours of my workday on a computer. Why on Earth would I look to relax and communicate with my friends on a computer?

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Every day it seems like there’s a new networking site like Facebook, MySpace, or Twitter, to help people stay in touch with people. I’m more of a pop-in-for-a-visit kind of guy when it comes to seeing my friends. Now, granted, I don’t get to pop in very often. But I just don’t want my friends’ faces to become a Facebook page. You can’t hug a monitor. You can’t crack jokes effectively on a Facebook page and see the playfully humiliated look on a friend’s face.

Moreover, I think people are becoming less social from using these social networking sites. I’m a people-watcher. When I’m out and about, I notice little social mores that I can only blame on websites like Facebook.

Here’s one: I go to a restaurant and see people sitting at a dinner table with four or five people, and every person is texting someone else (perhaps even someone right at the same table), instead of talking to the people right in front of them. I swear to you I’ve seen it.

Here’s another: A guy sees a girl he’s interested in. He won’t try to strike up a conversation with her but rather tries to get her name so he can run home to see if she has a Facebook page to initiate contact. I was there. I actually witnessed this happen.

The most disturbing thing I’ve noticed are people who have like 39,000 friends on Facebook that can’t even muster up the social savvy to strike up a decent conversation with a stranger and get to know them. Because after all, the number of friends you have on Facebook is a direct indication of your social abilities, right? (Just kidding, Facebookers. Don’t get your web pages in a bunch.)

My point is I’m a people-person. I prefer face-to-face social interaction to blogging and uploading. To me, there’s no point in making someone laugh if you can’t see the joy spread across his or her face. And LOL just doesn’t do it for me.

My graphic design mentor once gave me the best advice I’ve heard about technology and that pressure others can put on you to join things like Facebook or upgrade to the latest software or the newest equipment. He told me that it’s best to treat that giant sea of technology like a huge buffet: You take what you want or need from it and leave the rest for others.

So to all you Facebook fanatics and Twitterers out there who ask me why I’m not registered, I clicked “no thanks.” I’ll leave that to you. If you want to add me as a friend, say hello when you see me out in public. My boyish good looks are much better seen in person than on a monitor.