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Get together with friends, no technology needed

September 25, 2011
By JOSHUA S. FLESHER - Tribune Chronicle ( , Tribune Chronicle |

As I was sitting and enjoying a quiet morning cup of coffee just this week, I decided to take a look at Facebook.

It was an uncommon morning, since both of my sons were still asleep and my wife was trying to catch up on some of her sleep. The only sound in the house was Sportscenter.

As I scrolled through my Facebook page, I was reading updates about other people's lives, and some were nice to read - seeing how a former classmate was doing at their new job, or seeing another friend from years ago had become engaged. But it got me wondering.

I started to go through my ''friends'' list, which, as other Facebook drones know, is the list of people that you are acquainted with just enough to know their name, and in many cases that is it.

As I looked through all these names, I realized that I had no idea who some of them were. I tried very hard to make a connection. Maybe they were former co-workers or someone I met once, but for the life of me, I couldn't think of who a few of these people were.

That is when I began ''The Purge!''

OK, that is a bit dramatic, but I started looking at these ''friends'' and realized that not only did I not know some of them, there were a number that I did know that I really never liked.

Then there were the people that I was ''friends'' with through someone else, like a friend's brother's ex-high school girlfriend.

See, having her on the list was very important.

Now, I remember back when this whole craze started, and I know that makes me sound like an out-of-touch old dork. When the whole thing began, you could only sign up if you were a student at colleges that were allowed on the site.

I signed up at Kent, and it was a nice way to keep in touch with people who were attending other schools or to send a quick message to a classmate about a study group or plans for the weekend.

Then, something happened. Everyone was allowed to sign up.

Why am I talking about Facebook and ''friends,'' you may ask?

The reason is, in this bizarre cyber-social world that we live in, the realization that, although a way to stay in touch, these types of social media are no substitute for real human contact.

To sit in front of my computer and look at a list of ''friends'' that has more than 500 people may make me think, ''Wow, I'm a popular guy,'' but in truth, how many of those people have any connection with my life in any real way?

This may come off sounding a bit unkind, but the truth of it is, these are perfectly nice people, who are leading perfectly fine lives, but if I am able to walk into a store, see one of these ''friends,'' and we have zero interaction because they don't recognize me in person, our ''friendship'' may not be real.

In a day and age such as this, we far too often find ourselves utilizing social media such as Facebook or any other number of program to do our socializing, but in doing so, we lose out on getting out in the world and meeting people face to face.

Don't get me wrong. I enjoy Facebook, and it allows me to stay in touch with people I don't get to see on a regular basis, such as old friends and family. But instead of spending my time trying to pump up my ''friends'' list above 1,000, I think I'm going to step outside, smell the fall air and crisp breeze, and try to connect or reconnect with a human being.



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