Thursday, February 19, 2009

And Now For Something Completely Serious...

Guess what? Someone has figured out that there is (and I quote) "...a difference between 'real presence' and the virtual variety." That someone would be a biologist (Dr. Sigman), who is worried about the effects of social networking on human beings. (Have you guessed that the news article to which I am referring was left open on my desktop this morning by my significant other? Methinks Larry believes I am spending a tad too much time talking to my imaginary friends.)

The crux of the argument:

Dr Sigman maintains that social networking sites have played a significant role in making people become more isolated.


Well! Consider the gauntlet thrown. Let us start with the fact that Dr. Sigman is male. I warrant he has never been trapped in the house for 2 months straight with 3 or even 4 kids under the age of 7 suffering from assorted ailments including - but not limited to - colds, stomach flu and chicken pox. In other words, Dr. Sigman does not even know what the word "isolated" means. Not the way we mothers know it.

As far as mommy bloggers (and I wear that label with pride) go, Dr. Sigman has put the fabled cart before the fabled horse. It is the damnable isolation that our jobs can impose upon us that drives us to find companionship (of the platonic variety, of course) on the Internet. Throughout the course of my parenting career, I have frequently endured weeks upon weeks of not getting together with close friends, due to their children's illnesses and schedules conflicting with my children's same. Until I found people to converse with over the Internet, I was at risk of going stark raving mad with isolation. Yellow Wallpaper mad...

What's more, I am in better touch with the people I know in real life because of my blog and Facebook. I've learned more about my grown nieces' lives in the past 3 weeks as their "friend" on Facebook than I've known in the previous 17 years. From reading my blog, my real-life friends know what is going on in my life, even if I can't pick up the phone (mothers learn quickly that trying to converse on the phone with children around is a surefire way for one or the other of our lovely offspring to incur an injury of ER magnitude).

The Internet has made us closer, not more estranged, Dr. Sigman. People are turning to the Internet to communicate because today's busy lifestyles have made it difficult for us to connect frequently otherwise. And to posit, as you do, that social networking sites reduce levels of face-to-face contact seems to be a bit of a logical jump. I have never turned down an opportunity to get together with friends because I wanted to stay home and blog or Facebook. Virtual interaction is for when there is no real interaction available. And those times happen frequently in a SAHM's life.

Now, if he had suggested that blogging and Facebook lead to child neglect, he might have been on to something...

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41 comments:

  1. I couldn't agree more :)

    I much prefer getting together with my friends, if it's possible.

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  2. Amen, sister. You have a witness in this corner.

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  3. Hear, hear. Just yesterday my oldest commented that I have a lot of friends--he'd been talking about one of the many gifts the baby received from people I've met through blogging. I said yes, but not a lot of nearby friends, for all the reasons you mentioned (plus not having a good hs'ing network to boot). And he said, "Far-away friends are better than no friends at all."

    Absolutely.

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  4. Yesterday one of my Facebook friends whom I had NEVER MET picked me up for lunch. Our sons are friends, but we had yet to meet. IT WAS FUN! I call that social interaction in spades, personally! It would not have happened but for her posting her status on Facebook (she wished she knew someone who wanted to go to lunch and I said, PICK ME!!!) :)

    So, I agree with you ABSOLUTELY! :)

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  5. Oh shit, where are the kids?!

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  6. "In less than two decades, the number of people saying there is no-one with whom they discuss important matters nearly tripled."

    lol thats cuz they are already sharing it with everyone at once.. duh...

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  7. I cannot remember a time in my life when I felt more lonely than the period of time after I left the workforce until I found the first mommy blog. I questioned my decision to stay home with my children because all the other mothers I know NEVER talk about feeling overpowered by their toddlers, or about their homes looking like the aftermath of a major storm. The blog world has given me back my sanity (such as it is) and made me feel more connected than I had in a long time.

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  8. I dunno. Blogging does fill a hole in my heart. But if I didn't have blogging, would I go crazy or spend more time drinking coffee next door?

    I'm one of those people who doesn't know the next door neighbors. Okay, the one is threatening a lawsuit for my shrubs leaning on her fence, and the other is mostly invisible but nice. Still, would I get out more? Dunno.

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  9. I couldn't have said it better. And, I become a bit of a pit bull when anyone tries to tell me that my "internet friends" are any less real than my "IRL friends". I've seen internet friends rally to help someone they've never seen face to face in ways that make my heart glad.

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  10. I so completely agree. And sometime I hope to meet my virtual friends in person!

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  11. Like I commented yesterday - Men just don't get it. I had 4 children in 4 years (not planned that way!) and there were weeks when I didn't get to see anyone other than my HB, or the local doctor & pharmacist! That's isolated.

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  12. I don't hang out with anyone. Just keep to myself. I was always very anxious and too depressed to hang around people. Now I am on a great antidepressant and I love having blog friends who don't know me or judge me.

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  13. As a SAHM back in the dark ages (late 80's) I can attest that my friends Oprah and Phil left me wanting more interactive relationships.

    I'm happy that moms have the opportunity to connect with like minded people with so many things to share and, most of all, the laughter that I know is spread around the world.

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  14. Remember in the old days when you'd be happily chatting away on the phone and suddenly say, "Oh! This is on your bill! I'd better let you go!" (Sorry, that's where my train of thought led from this discussion.) I don't have "internet friends" per se. They are my real life friends brought closer to me through the magical worldwide web. (SAHM and Wisconsin- both very isolating.)

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  15. I agree with you about both the internet friendships and the child neglect!

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  16. Amen!!!

    As one who had four kids under age six in the 80's, I want to jump up and down and yell, Tell it, sister! I would have had it much easier as a SAHM if I'd had the 'Net back then. And how often do we jump at the chance to meet an online friend in person? For me, every time the chance is offered, and it always turns out wonderful. But then, they're all knitters too...

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  17. I totally agree. Not only do I have NEW friends who I met through the blog, who I go to lunch with and do things with frequently - but I feel like I know my sisters/friends/relatives who have blogs so much better than I did before. I never knew very much about my cousin - until I read her blog. There are some things that don't come up in real life, that you learn when you read someone's blog. And I understand them better.

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  18. Yes, indeedy. I've made new friends and kept the old. One is silver and the other's gold!

    Especially as a homeschooling family, we can just feel really alone. My kids need other kids and I need adults. The internet gets the job done. (So poo to you, Mr. Sigman!)

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  19. I feel LESS isolated since I've had my blog. I only with I had been able to have it several years sooner.
    I've met so many new friends that I've also been able to meet in person.
    My SILs also have blogs and often times I find out about stuff from their blogs that I might not have otherwise known.
    I've recently discovered the blogs of several people from my neighborhood, and I'm currently secretly stalking them, so now I know stuff about them that they don't know that I know about them.
    Is that wrong?

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  20. For some of us, without our "virtual" friends, we'd have no friends at all. I haven't got a single "real" friend where I live. I NEVER leave the house, except to drive Darling Son to and from all of his school activities. Talk about your isolation...

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  21. I guess it depends where you live, Jami - we have so many hs'ers here, my social life is better than that of my friends who have kids in school.

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  22. AMEN! I have more than one friend IRL who keeps up with me through my blog. And I have hopes to meet up with several blogging friends in the next 8 months.

    Child neglect is not so much my problem... but I am guilty of household neglect. (Would I rather clean the boys' toilet? Or blog? What a tough question!)

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  23. Dr. Sigmund is an idiot. Virtual friends are better than nobody when you're a SAHM, espeically a homeschooling one. And little does he know that virtual friends are real. And not only in our minds.

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  24. I partly agree with you, blogging brought me friends, but I disliked facebook. A lot.
    I was just spending too much time doing nothing, and I hated the keep-in-touch-by-status-updates..
    I mean I do love sending and receiving emails but I didn't like that people would just assume you know what's going on in their lives by status updates...
    And then there is a strange feeling of "popularity" I was friends with people I didn't know, then I would try to get to know them better and they wouldn't answer my messages... Like I want more "friends" but not more connections with people...
    Anyway I left facebook, I kept a good friend from there :) so it's not entirely negative :)
    Now the blogging part is great. I'm so glad about it, reading and commenting, and befriending the people who regularly comment on your blog :)
    That's really encouraging :)

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  25. ...ah, I love seeing the logical jumps people like Dr. Sigman make. If only he had talked to you before he bothered to start thinking about this subject [smile].

    ~Luke

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  26. Amen! My husband is anti-facebook. I fully intend on passing off your eloquent argument as my own tonight. Thanks!

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  27. i hear you and am totally with you!

    my friends are scattered all over the world. and if it wasn't for the internet and networking sites, i wouldn't be able to keep up with their lives - hence, no friends!

    franzi

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  28. Amen to this!!!
    I agree with EVERYTHING!
    I am lovin' the tech world and the connections and communications I can make as a result.

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  29. Daughter Jennie of BIRDHOUSES AND BEES NESTS sent me to your post. YOU ARE GREAT! I totally agree with the 6 posts I read and laughed at instead of getting my housework done. So, to Dr. Who's assessment of the harm of blogging, add "Causes housework to be ignored."

    And remind me to send you a free copy of my novel "IRON ROSE" if you want it. I used to be a writer, too (4 published novels), before I got old and creaky (and called on a mission). (I'm not really creaky. I belly-dance for exercise every day. But I do like to spread my books around. They're GOOD!).

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  30. Great post and great comments :)

    The only point I can think to add is that you're able to get to know a greater variety of people online, too. And, be exposed to ideas - through conversation - that wouldn't necessarily occur in "real life."

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  31. Stephenie in FloridaFebruary 20, 2009

    Oh! You are so funny! Reading your blog is really the highlight of my day! I just love it!!!

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  32. Utterly right!

    Have a great weekend.
    H

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  33. Right ON! Yes yes it's true!

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  34. Well you had many, good, serious arguments for blogging and FB and all that....I just look at as proof that the voices in my head do exist! An imaginary voice couldn't have started a blog all on her own now could it?

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  35. You hit the nail on the head.

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  36. You are awesome.

    The internet saved my sanity back when I was at home with two in diapers. That was before blogs or twitter or Facebook, but you bet your ass I'd have been all over them.

    The isolation, that feeling of being the only one going through this--nobody tells you what it's like.

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  37. Just now saw this post. What a great point. Excellent!

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  38. Hi, I just found your blog...great post! Thank you for pointing out how the kids' illnesses can make hard it to get together with other moms. That's the biggest challenge I've had in terms of developing lasting friendships and I don't think it occurs to people that this can be a real problem. I find a mom and maybe we get together for a couple of playdates, but we're constantly canceling due to the kids' illnesses, and then so much time goes by that the fledgling friendships just tend to fizzle out.

    Also, love the reference to The Yellow Wallpaper - I've often had the same thought myself!

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