Sunday, September 28, 2008


I love to meet new people, make new friends. But not the Facebook way.

I like to see people up close, in person, get to know who they are in real time.

They say that 80% of communication happens non-verbally - e.g. through body language and facial expressions. I miss out on all that with you if you are just a Friend on MySpace.

Recently, I said to my great aunt "Hey, there is this little machine I saw advertised in a magazine. It allows you to receive emails, especially photos, without having to buy a computer. What do you think?" And she, in her midwestern wisdom, replied "Oh, no, dear. I don't want all that Spam, all those junk emails. If I want to get in touch with someone, I will pick up the phone!"

This is the same great aunt that rocks when it comes to keeping in touch with her family and friends - just by picking up the phone. In fact, at age 80, that's the way she organized a huge family reunion - by picking up the phone and sending out letters.

So I thought about what she said and realized there was some truth to it. The most memorable interactions I've had with people over the years have come about through phone calls, hand-written notes, and in-person visits or gatherings. I would much rather be on the giving and receiving ends of those transactions versus just being part of someone's MySpace universe or vice versa.

I think there's something to this old-fashioned approach to reaching out to people and keeping them close to us.

When I pass away, I don't think I will be saying "Geez, I wish I had collected more faces on my Facebook Page." I think I will be happy that I took the time to get to know people, and, where possible, to get together with them in the flesh and blood. Those are the kinds of memories that stay, and stay in a meaningful way.


len said...

What you write about non-verbal communication is so true, Eleanor. So often I see people conversing, even in purposeful circles, yet sometimes staring at the floor while listening.
I believe they're missing the point.
For example, I was recently part of an experience of drawing faces. In pairs, looking in mirrors at only ourselves, my partner and I sketched our own faces.
I felt so, so self-conscious about (1) my art skills and (2) the tired eyes, wrinkles, receding hairline, and scars I'd see. And I did.
Then we partners sketched each other's faces. That experience was very intimate, as I felt I really got to "know" the person. In fact, I'll surely now never forget her face.
In then looking at drawings of my own face, as well as hers, I realized that what really matters are our eyes and mouth, through which we express so much to the other person, and through which we're perceived.
The experience helped me see that my spirit and youthful feeling came through my eyes and mouth quite well, and the grey hair and other features of age didn't matter nearly as much.
Also, wouldn't have "known" my partner's real essence had I only dwelled on her clothing or other features, and not learned that day to pay attention to her face as well as her words.


Anonymous said...

might be late to comment but i agree with the author.

Its much more authentic and real to make friends face to face than pixel on the screen.

Anonymous said...

You're right. I am not on Facebook and will never be, because I know that reality tastes better. I'm socialised enough in real life, so why to join other, not full-version of reality?