I read somewhere yesterday that young people don’t even email anymore. Most of their communication is now done via texting, Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. In my eyes, these are all basically email vehicles – the concept is more-or-less the same. The most-often used method of communicating on these sites is messaging, really, just like an email. The only difference is that with the sites listed above, you’re doing it in a community environment vs. a direct message to an email address.
In thinking about my own usage and putting aside work, where email is still the predominant method of communication (especially for me, given I’m a remote employee), I very rarely use traditional email for non-work communication, either. Most catching up or checking with friends is done via Facebook or even IM. MySpace is a complete wasteland at this point. Too bad Fox Interactive didn’t sell it the year after they bought it. At this point, Twitter is fun but it’s not blood and veins, it’s candy.
Contact with close friends and family is mostly a phone call. I can’t even remember the last time I launched an actual email client like Outlook for personal email. Most retail emails and shipping confirmations go to my GMail box. It won’t be long, either, before you’ll be able to dial up your friends and do video chat right on the computer or your television. These technologies exist now, yes, but in embryonic form. I’m waiting for someone to step up there and knock it out of the park. Someone will and it will be a game-changer.
But let’s get back to Facebook for a second. It’s usage is exploding. I’m getting invitations from people I haven’t spoken to for, say, 20 years. And it’s great! Many of these people are folks I spent nearly every day with from kindergarden to 12th grade, so it’s great and very interesting to see what they’re up to and being able to reconnect has been really fun, now that we’re not young and stuck in awkward teenagerdom.
Of course, I’m connected to closer friends and family as well. But what’s really interesting is that I get invitations from people who I went to the same high school with or whatever, but never really knew. Or brothers and sisters of classmates that I never even spoke to. I decline these. It’s not out of any kind of snobbery, trust me. If anything, I need to work on feeling better about myself. It’s just that I’d like my Facebook connections to be people I actually know. It’s not a friend race for me to see how many I can pile up, that just makes the whole experience unproductive and overwhelming.
Anyway, this has happened more than a few times. I get a friend request and I accept it, then realize a few weeks later that I’ve met this person once or twice and never really knew them! So I delete the connection. Yeah, there’s a little guilt in doing that, but having them as a connection and not communicating with them at all doesn’t do any good. Why should I care if someone I met once is grocery shopping or managing sick children? Just as they shouldn’t care what my Facebook status is. Still, I don’t know where I should draw the line in accepting or declining. I don’t know. I clearly don’t look at it the same way as many others do……..
Alas, if these are the kinds of things I’m struggling with these days, then my life is going pretty well, I suppose. I’ve also been trying to work ELO into a subject line. Check that one off the list!