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Human Communication vs. The Social Network

Netiquette Rule #1 - Remember the Human!Our daughter Leah’s family lives some distance away. Our son-in-law Charlie sends me, via a social network, pictures of their daughter Katie all of the time. I love it. Little did I suspect that this act of generosity could be perceived as unsocial.

I witnessed just such a breach of sociability in social networking just this past weekend when we were visited by Leah, Katie, and Charlie.

Leah is a busy lady. Even though it was a Saturday she was phoning and texting throughout the afternoon. Charlie was just relaxing and occasionally taking pictures of Katie and sending them out to friends and family via a social network. On one occasion I walked into the room and both of them were texting simultaneously.

Each was in a world of his/her own, communicating via cyberspace. Even though I was in the same room, for a brief moment I could have been in another world. I was not noticed.

Now I’m not making a big deal about this because I wasn’t noticed, I’m making a big deal about this because during those moments there was no sociability present. No insult was taken, and I know, no insult was intended. But I certainly see a society that is getting more and more unsocial in person because we’re so focused on sociability and business online.

A TV commentator pointed to the use of smart phones becoming more and more prevalent at traditional social events. One example she gave was the number of people you see openly texting, browsing, or even playing games, at a funeral. My wife is in the funeral business and nodded her head when she heard the observation.

Lord knows, with the capabilities built into what we used to call telephones, with all the opportunities currently available on a 3 inch screen for the expansion of the human consciousness, it’s becoming easier to overlook the actual human in the room.

As stated in the first rule of netiquette (http://www.albion.com/netiquette/): Remember the Human!

Are we becoming a world that finds relief in the fact that soon each of us will be able to go an entire day without actually having to talk to somebody face-to-face? If this trend does indeed exist, think how differently your great-grandchildren will communicate.

We have to work to make sure that live, in-person communication with others does not become passé. Let’s find a friendly, and yes, sociable way, to live in a world where cyber communication exists side-by-side with “look you in the eye” human communication.

I cherish the time that I get to spend with Leah, Charlie, and Katie. I don’t even mind the times when they are absorbed with their phones, and Katie is on a laptop playing some game on NickJr. In those moments I cherish the time when we actually talk and smile at each other even more. Maybe that’s a good thing.

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