Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Internet Social Networking as a Third Place

All is quiet on the blog front and that is as it should be in summer. As I read Thomas Friedman's editorial in the Sunday NY Times this week he commented on the advantages and disadvantages of places in Africa with and without the connectivity of cell phones, internet, etc. The goal is to know when the tool is beneficial and when it is not.

I have yet to delve into the Third Places available via the internet as a subject of my blog, probably because as we all know it is a curse and a blessing depending on the person and the moment. My mind doesn't work in pithy sayings so I am ill suited for status updates on Facebook. I am a reluctant internet social networker or cell phone user. I resent dependency and have enough of a hard time figuring out social etiquette face to face without further complexity. Imagine my shock and dismay when the rest of the world proceeds without my approval, harumph! My latest blow was finding out that my monthly cell phone bill was going to be in excess of $400! Well, not mine exactly, but my "family plan" with my daughter. She pays for her phone, so this is going to set her back a bit. Those plans for new school clothes with summer babysitting money have gone out the window! I consider myself partly to blame because I was in the dark about "normal" text usage for teenagers. I thought our plan was generous, especially since I do not text at all. The "average" teenager texts 2000 messages per month. The sprint guy says I got off easy, that there have been parents with $4000 bills! I'm sorry, but internet, cable, cell phones, none of these replace real live face to face contact!

We are sensual beings. We need to touch, smell, taste, see, and hear to feel alive. At least I do, especially in summer. I am content to read books, watch movies, surf the internet or gab on the phone when I cannot bear to face a bitter Minnesota February evening, but give me the breeze off the water, the cricket in the grass, the smell of hydrangea and the ability to lose myself in it without interruption. My sentimental views are quaint and obvious but I know I have kindred spirits out there, some of whom are too content with summer to be reading blogs, perhaps we'll connect in February!