A 24-year-old student went 90 days without using a cell phone, email or social media. Yahoo News interviewed him about the experience:
I definitely just lost complete contact with people that normally would have been part of my life. I mean it’s also an interesting metric for your life to see who some of your closest friends are, you know, and who’s willing to take the time.
I find it an interesting thought experiment to contrast this idea with Clusterflock, which is the clearest example in my life of the relationship-building power of the internet and social technology. The internet made it possible to seek out an entirely new tribe of people – people with which I have so much in common and so much to talk about, but that I hadn’t realized existed.
But then there are social networks like Facebook, which at their worst takes all of the people who are already part of your life – your co-workers, your school chums, your family – and hands them a level of intimacy about our lives that they haven’t really earned and don’t particularly deserve. I think that’s why it’s so interesting when these online relationships predicated on intimate knowledge but passive communication go bust when one party pulls out of Facebook – we’re just learning a hard lesson about the differences between that kind of intimate knowledge and true friendship, which for the longest time I thought were one and the same.
A couple relatives recently found me on Google Plus (I use it primarily for the sad remnants of what was once Google Reader). I hadn’t even acknowledged their existence before they were already commenting on every single piece of information attached to my name. This, I’m told, is keeping in touch.