Apr 182012
Authors: Lydia Jorden

Early Tuesday morning, one of the most catastrophic events in all technology took place. My mind started spinning, I felt dizzy and my legs trembled beneath me. I had trouble breathing, trouble seeing and trouble making sense of the world around me. I was not able to use one of my six ways of contacting others.

Early Tuesday morning, Gmail crashed. It didn’t just crash for me; it crashed for many users who utilize Gmail as their primary way of staying in contact. It caused a disturbance not only within an office building, but also within my life.

If this sounds ridiculous, that’s because it is. The first thing my friend said to me on Tuesday morning was that Gmail had crashed. Now normally, this should not be a huge deal. After all, we do have communication backups that include Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, various blogs, Instagram and Google . Google even used Twitter to let everyone know that they were indeed working on fixing the problem.

But these social networking sites aren’t the only way we can stay in contact. There is a strange concept that involves picking up a phone, dialing numbers and speaking into it. But what’s an even stranger concept of staying in touch? It could possibly be getting off your butt to actually talk to someone.

For me, it is not the idea that Gmail is down that perplexes me. There are various reasons that explain that situation, and I know that it will be back up soon enough. However, what does interest me are the overly dramatic and exasperated responses of Gmail users that seem to be so troubled by this.

Of course, accounting for the messages that are sent to someone not in a nearby area can create frustration, especially in a business environment. Yet, when it comes to people working in the same building, exhibiting the same frustration is common –– unwarranted, but it still occurs.

Having all of these social networking sites constrains people to a chair, rather than soliciting a want within someone to actually get off their behind and make a personal encounter with someone. Because it’s so much easier to email rather than get off one’s butt to say the same thing in a more meaningful, relationship-building way.

There are numerous emerging social media sites that are currently underutilized and not yet mainstream, but that is soon to change as consumer preferences consistently change to expect a better quality product that meets their expectations. Foursquare, for example, allows users to check in at various stores, and some stores even distribute discounts to users who check in at their store.

This type of emerging trend in social media closely relates to a different way of connecting with friends via location: Google Map’s Latitude. People no longer need to tell their friends where they are going if they want to meet up. They simply just check their phones to see where their friends have checked in. Loopt is another location-based media that strives to achieve the goal of connecting its users with where their friends are on a map.

With all these social networking sites, it’s difficult to find who to blame for the obvious lack of personal, face-to-face communication that we, as a society, know so well. We really can’t blame the social networking sites for causing this impersonal interaction between people because individuals request this type of service. We have created a want for it that companies are simply trying to meet.

Society has demanded such an increase in social networking advancements that we are to blame for the extended variety of communication networks. If a consumer demands it, a profit-seeking firm will create it. The more something is sought, the more something will be produced. Thus, the creation of various social networking sites.

As human beings who have originated on the basis of personal communication and contact, we can do something about this constant addiction to getting another Facebook hit or connection to email. Once we actually begin to get moving to talk to the person in the desk next to us, maybe the person in the desk next to us will be compelled to do the same. And learning the foundations of building personal relationships with people involved a face-to-face interaction, rather than an detached email.

I challenge you to actually get moving and start actually contacting a person you want to talk to. Leave the email untouched for a day and try speaking to people over the phone or in person. You may find that more personal connections may just enrich your life rather than spending the time focusing on how the Internet is down.

Lydia Jorden is a junior business major. Her column runs Thursdays in the Collegian. She can be reached at letters@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 5:17 pm

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