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Say it to my face…book?

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I consider myself to be rather in-touch with what’s going on around me. I have over 400 “friends” on my personal Facebook Account. I have a bunch of people that I email, instant message/chat, text, or call on a regular basis. I try to stay on top of what’s going on with my friends, and I try to keep them appraised of the situation here.

I call, text, or email important things to top-priority people, and most everything gets shared on my blog at one point or another. On the flip-side, I’m easy to contact. I recently got a new BlackBerry, and she rarely leaves my side. I check email, Facebook, and Twitter from my phone. MY. PHONE. My, how times have changed!

I have pretty much all the communication bases fully covered.

So, imagine my surprise one day when I discover, purely by a random course of events, that one of our closest friends is engaged.

Engaged!?

Did he tell me in the myriads of text messages we’d had going back and forth the day before? No. Did he tell me in an email? No. Did he tell me in one of the phone conversations we’d had that week? No.

A friend of a friend saw it on our friend’s Facebook relationship status.

Now, for those of you unfamiliar with the intricacies of Facebook, you can set a status that will broadcast to everyone, and you can also plug in information that is static on the site. It just sits there for everyone to see if they go to your page (Name, Hometown, Relationship Status, etc.). THIS is where he announced his engagement.

I couldn’t believe it, and because we are such close friends, I’ve given him unending grief about it, too. (His mom is on Facebook, and he claims to have told her before she saw it on there. I can only hope that’s true.)

“I had to learn this information on Facebook!?” I said to him when he finally called me. “I guess I see where I rank…”

I tried really hard to let this slide, to ignore the tenderness of my feelings, but this isn’t the first time this has happened to me.

This situation conjured up feelings from the not-so-distant past. A bunch of things like this have started happening in my circle of friends, and I’m wondering if this trend is here to stay. For example, I found out via Facebook about the birth of a close friend’s baby. Even though we’d been calling and emailing back and forth before her due-date, she opted not to send out a mass email or give us a call. She chose Facebook as her means of communication, and because I have so many friends to sort through on there, I’d missed the announcement until days had gone by. (In all fairness, it’s not her fault I have so many status updates to sort through.) I wished I would have been told directly so that I could have helped them celebrate sooner. Still, I tried to set my feelings aside and be happy to see pictures of her new little one so quickly.

We all have different “types” of friends, so I can understand finding out some of these things if the personal connection isn’t as strong. For example, I’m “friends” on Facebook with people I haven’t seen in 17 years (or longer!). I wouldn’t expect a phone call or a personal email about something that is happening to them, and vice versa. I enjoy reading Facebook statuses about what’s going on in their world.

Of course there are exceptions to these little rules I have in my head. When my dad was in a car accident last year, I put it out onto Facebook, and the overwhelming response I got from people warmed my heart. Things were happening so quickly, and I was glad to have a quick way to keep people updated.

Just the other day, in fact, one of my friends used her Twitter account to alert us about an accident in her family, and I wasn’t the least bit offended. It was a call of action, so to speak, and we rallied around her.

To me, that’s different. As devastating as an accident is, it’s in a different category than a “monumental event” like a birth, engagement, or death. When I find out something monumental about a close friend at the same time as their mother’s best friend’s daughter? I feel less important.

There. I said it.

All this being said, I think I’ve figured it out. I am just as important as I was before to my friends. People are just excited to announce the news to the whole world in the most efficient way possible. Social Media has become the Great Equalizer amongst the recipients of information. I either need to let go of my old way of seeing things or risk having my feelings hurt again and again.

Have Social Media tools like Facebook changed the face of communication, and/or do any of the old-school rules still apply? Do I need to unlearn all the “rules of communication” that are so ingrained in my psyche? And, more importantly, is there an app. for that? 😉

So, what do you think? How do you prefer to send and receive important information?

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Comments
  • comment avatar Dan B. July 30, 2009

    I’m ok with making those announcements on facebook in general. As you said, people want to be efficient. Although most people probably haven’t thought through the details this closely, I think they also like it because they want to make sure they don’t leave anybody out, and they don’t want to worry about what you described from the other side — some friends feeling like they’re less important than others.

    You also mentioned everybody rallying and supporting in a difficult time; it’s even easier on facebook, where everybody can see each other’s public comments without spamming with a bunch of reply-to-all emails.

    It also makes it easier for people during a difficult time. Just a couple days ago, a friend announced his divorce on facebook. I didn’t see his status update at first, but I saw the relationship change, figured it out, and went to his profile. There, I saw his status, which even apologized for using facebook to announce it, but it sounded like it was too hard and tedious for him to do individually. Of course, he had already told his family. And since I’ve only seen him once in the last decade, I wonder if I would’ve found out if we weren’t connected through facebook.

    There is a case where I think it’s gone too far, though. I found out several of my friends — all female — have been “asked out” over facebook. And the reason I have “asked out” in quotes is because I’m not sure you can call it “asking out”; because it wasn’t even in a facebook message (which is essentially email), but simply by the guy changing his own relationship status and putting in the request that it be with the woman in question. No leading up to it, no warning; they just put in the request.

    How crazy is that? “Click here for a girlfriend.” Talk about passive-aggressive! I’m introverted myself, but you still have to have the guts to ask her out as directly as possible. My friends seem to agree — none of them accepted. One even got enough requests that way that she is now listed as being in an “it’s complicated with” with a female friend to prevent those requests. I thought they did that just to be funny — but it turns out there’s a reason. And did I mention these are adults? *Sigh*, that’s just not how relationships work.

  • comment avatar Amber July 30, 2009

    As a general rule, I avoid the phone like the plague. But for important info, I expect a phone call. Very everything else, I love email, Twitter and Facebook.

    That said, my dear husband initially proposed via email.

    I made him redo his proposal later. 🙂

  • comment avatar JoAnn July 30, 2009

    Dan, thanks for commenting!!

    That’s crazy! I didn’t even touch on the “Relationships in the time of Facebook” issue. I’m so glad my formative years were in the late 1900s. 😉

  • comment avatar JoAnn July 30, 2009

    Amber, I know you aren’t alone. I have a sister who hates the phone. Claire (3yrs old) LOVES the phone, so she is actually helping her aunt come out of her shell. I think she’s talked to Claire more on the phone in the last 3yrs than she’s spoken to me EVER. LOL!

    On the other hand, my sister and I text to each other a few times (if not more) a day. I feel connected, and she doesn’t have to break out in hives. 😉

  • comment avatar Holly July 30, 2009

    It depends on the info I’m delivering, who I’m delivering it to and how well my internet is behaving that day. I do think it’s easier to get the word out to many people in one shot via Facebook or email. When I had my son, my husband text all my family and closest friends. That was just the easiest most personal thing we could do from a hospital room;

    I will say, I’m less inclined to call people now that we are all so connected and THAT is a bit sad.

  • comment avatar Jennifer July 30, 2009

    I ditched Facebook, in part, because of reasons such as this (The other major reason being that it was sucking up waaay too much of my time.). I haven’t even gotten near Twitter. I love email as much as the next person, but I also love to talk with my close friends. I couldn’t find the balance, and I admire those who can, such as yourself. Right on!

  • comment avatar JoAnn July 30, 2009

    Thanks for the comment, Holly!

    When we had Claire (over 3.5 years ago), we didn’t have texting on my phone. We weren’t on Facebook or Twitter. I didn’t even have the blog up and running yet. We had a personal family website for photos. I took a list to the hospital of people to call and my husband brought his laptop and mass emailed photos and stats with a link to the website to everyone.

    I am connected to the ‘net practically 24/7 these days, but I have friends who aren’t. We still call each other, but it’s much more difficult to find a time when someone’s kids aren’t screaming to have a nice chat. But, you’re right…for the friends that are on Chat or Facebook, we do THAT now, rather than pick up the phone…

  • comment avatar JoAnn July 30, 2009

    Jennifer, finding balance IS hard. Years ago, when I quit my corporate job to work out of my home office, Instant Messaging (IM) was the way I communicated with most of my friends. I quickly found that it was becoming a huge time-suck, so I quit. Cold-turkey. I went to emailing my friends and only checking that account a couple times a day. It was a huge, drastic step for me at the time, but it was needed. My productivity at work skyrocketed, and I never regretted the decision to cut back.

    Now, things have shifted again, and I’m back online most of the time. So far, so good. 🙂

  • comment avatar Mama Bird July 30, 2009

    This is such a timely post. I keep wondering if my daughter will have “real” relationships in the future because of technology. I saw a show on “Oprah” where all the teens don’t even talk to their friends anymore, they just IM each other! I’d rather fight with my teen about talking on the phone than to know her only communication was through IM!

    Dan’s comment about how men are now using FB to ask women out, is an appalling development to me. Dating has really been going backward for some time. Call me old-fashioned, but, I much prefer the times where women needed to be escorted to be courted. Hope my daughter doesn’t mind. 😉

    While I participate in FB, Twitter and IM, I make it a point to have relationships IRL as well. 🙂

  • comment avatar JoAnn July 30, 2009

    Mama Bird, I’ve had a post percolating for a while now about the things our kids will do/expect/not-even-know-about in this day and age!

    I’d like to think that FB, Twitter and IM are *enhancing* the IRL relationships I have now, but I wonder when that balance will shift?

    Thanks for the comment!

  • comment avatar Brandie July 30, 2009

    I totally agree. I have missed many things events because of people posting it on facebook. I don’t go there everyday. I don’t have time but I also don’t keep everyone on there informed of what is going on. I guess it will all go as far as we let it go. Hope when my kids grow up they still know how to talk to other humans and not just technical equipment.

  • comment avatar JoAnn July 30, 2009

    Brandie, I’m so glad I’m not the only one! Thanks for your comment!

  • comment avatar Lori in Denver July 30, 2009

    You were first on the scene, thanks to Glenda.

    Your support has meant so much, and it’s been incredibly helpful to have been rallied around.

    I love Twitter/Facebook/MileHighMamas….and your Blackberry!

  • comment avatar JoAnn July 30, 2009

    Lori, I love the community that we’ve built here at MileHighMamas, and I hope it continues to grow!

    Good luck to you and Roger! I can only imagine how stressful that last week has been for you!!

  • comment avatar Midwestern Grandma July 30, 2009

    There are times I greatly dislike the modern modes of communication; there are times I enjoy them.

    I have a strong feeling the newest generations will be greatly enriched due to these “modern” inventions…but also miss out on some important “old fashioned” human developments, if we are not careful. I am very thankful my childhood was mostly spent in the 50’s and 60’s.

  • comment avatar JoAnn July 30, 2009

    Thanks for the comment, Midwestern Grandma!

    It will be interesting to see where this all leads! I can’t help but be astounded at how far we’ve come already. The fact that Claire sees a “screen” and ASSUMES that it is a “touch screen” is amazing to me. Especially when I remember life before the TV remote control. 😉

  • comment avatar Jolene July 30, 2009

    I know people who are still “holding out” and so against Facebook/social media.

    On one hand I understand the disconnect/isolation argument of it all (spending hours in front of a computer instead of face to face communication). However, on the flip side I have connected with people like long lost cousins, high school friends who I would never interact with otherwise, and I’m able to stay updated with their kids etc. I like that!

    I really like Twitter, even though it took me a year to understand it 🙂

    I think there are a lot of positive benefits to social media and it is all what you make of it and how you use it. I just saw a Tweet this morning that a company was suing someone for making defamatory remarks about them via Twitter. Like anything the bad comes with the good.

    Overall I like social media and wish I had more time to contribute to it all 🙂

  • comment avatar JoAnn July 30, 2009

    Jolene, thanks for your comment!

    I joined Facebook kicking and screaming. I really didn’t want to, and then promptly fell madly in love with it.

    I did the same with Twitter. I really didn’t “get it…” until one day it just clicked! Now, I wonder how I lived without it. 🙂

  • comment avatar Kagey July 31, 2009

    I learned about a relative-by-marriage’s divorce via FB — it was an awkward, unhappy thing to communicate, so I sort of understand why she posted it there instead of elsewhere. A number of years ago, before FB was so prevalent, another friend let us know about his divorce via email. That’s a tough one to communicate, I think. You don’t want to have to go over the details over and over, you need well-wishes, but also need time to heal…

  • comment avatar JoAnn July 31, 2009

    I agree, Kagey. There are certain situations that are really well-served by Social Media. Thanks for the comment!

  • comment avatar Beckie July 31, 2009

    Great point to bring up, very interesting. I really do not like talking on the telephone. However if I do have something very important to share with a close friend or family member I will call on the phone. I would prefer a phone call as well for important information.
    However when we had our children we sent out mass emails because of the conveience.
    I use Facebook to keep up with friends I had not seen in a very long time.

  • comment avatar Seston May 6, 2011

    Now we know who the seisnble one is here. Great post!

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