Let’s begin by doing a short history lesson and questionnaire. Please understand that I am bringing my own family history to this discussion, which means we are covering nearly a century of societal mores. My parents were born in 1915 and 1918, married in the 30’s, and had me in the 50’s. My boys were born in 1993 and 1996. I had my first-born four days after my 40th birthday. A lot has happened during all these decades.
To bolster my claim that SocialMedia is our life these days, answer the following questions:
1. When is the last time you had a dinner party at your home?
2. Do you have more virtual or real-life friends?
3. How often to you speak with or see your real-life friends?
4. Have you hand-written a letter since the turn of the century?
5. Did you ever have a pen pal? Do you even know what a pen pal is?
6. How did you meet your current partner or spouse?
7. Do you know anyone that met his or her partner or spouse on a blind date?
8. Do you have a best friend? If the answer is yes, how often do you see or speak with him or her?
9. Do your kids write thank-you notes? Do you?
10. Name the last invitation you received that was done by calligraphy?
11. Name the last big event in which you sent out formal invitations with self-addressed stamped return envelopes enclosed?
12. If you married in the last decade, did you register at a department store, the Apple Store, or online? Did you register at all? Do you know what registering is?
13. How do you communicate with your partner/spouse and kids? By cell-phone, text, or email?
14. Do you still have a landline at home?
These questions begin to give the rationale behind the claim of this column’s title. My parents had dinner parties. My mom took great care preparing for them. If our family finances were okay, she would hire a cook, though my mom did much of the prep work herself as far as decorating the house, taking out her best china and silver, and bringing out serving platters and other party goods she meticulously kept covered and stored.
My mom had regular luncheons with her girlfriends, spent what seemed to me countless hours gossiping on the phone, and wrote letters to her relatives that lived out-of-state.
Moving forward to my youth, I had many pen pals. I also spent countless hours on the phone with my best friends from junior and high school. It was called Junior High rather than Middle School when I grew up. We played outside. I rode my bike to school. I got my driver’s license on my 16th birthday.
Do you know ANY kid that plays outside? Do you know any kid that got their driver’s license anywhere near his or her 16th birthday?
Fast-forward: I married, had children, divorced, joined the Social Media explosion, and married again. I met my first-wife on a blind date. I met my second wife online. I no longer have a best friend, though I did throughout my youth and young adult years. I have more virtual friends than real-life friends and I rarely talk at length with any of my friends or family on a landline or cell-phone, except when I’m on a long road trip. When I’m home and the landline rings, I don’t answer it. I don’t want to answer it because most of the calls are my boy’s schools doing some automated announcement or someone soliciting something.
My friends call me, if at all, on my cell though most of our communication is via email or text. Same with my wife and especially with my boys. I don’t remember the last dinner party we attended or the last we had ourselves. We used to have friends over for Shabat dinners many Friday nights, but our busy schedules plus having two teenagers seems to have caused those dinners to fade to memories.
What does your social life look like today? What do your kid’s social lives look like? Do you like the evolution of our social lives? Do you believe all these technological advances have enhanced YOUR life? I’m not sure…