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The person is mightier than the poke


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Out of the millions of people whose daily lives are logged, updated and virtually lived through social networking sites, I am proud to say that I am not one of them.

FacebookAt university, I have only met one other person who does not have Facebook. And for every single person I have met who I have told I don't have Facebook, I have been greeted with a sudden gasp, a physical recoil and a bewildered “did she say what I think she said?” stare.

This is then followed by a sudden invasion of my personal space as said person leans closer to me, their eyes mere inches from mine and in a mix of quiet outrage and awestruck curiosity asks the seemingly unanswerable question “Why not?'

The answer is pretty simple. The non-Facebookers and non-Tweeters of the world (however much a minority they might be) are not, contrary to some people's beliefs, a group of anti-social technophobic revolutionaries who wish to see the fall of cyber space. It's not that we're against Facebook or Twitter but personally, I would rather either have a conversation face-to-face or Skype/phone someone to keep in touch.

Don't get me wrong, I don't have anything against social networking sites, I just wish that we weren't so dependent on them. I am well aware of the overwhelming power that Facebook and Twitter have, they are excellent for keeping and building relationships both socially and professionally, for changing plans at the last minute and making sure that no one is left behind. Indeed the sheer instantaneous effects of just one message can be incredible.

This social networking revolution is both exciting and scary and the rapid pace at which our lives are being increasingly dominated by these sites makes the embracing of such a way of life inevitable.

Indeed, it may even be considered selfish to refrain from using social networking sites to keep in touch; however the effectiveness of such sites should not replace our actual real life. We should be too busy going out rather than too busy to go out because we are slaves to that status update.

Poking, tweeting and any other virtual verbs that are yet to be actioned are easily today's most instantaneous forms of communication but are they also the least personal? (Of course the irony now is everyone will be using such ways to comment on this article)

A funny comment there, a tagged photo here is all very well, but when the going gets tough, what do we all prefer: the sympathetic ear of a good friend or a wall full of comments from people we barely know?

During my first year at university, one morning I came out from my halls to find a card addressed to me. It wasn't my birthday and as far as I knew my student finances were okay (!) so I opened the card with curiosity.

The reason this card turned out to be such a pleasant surprise was not because it was from my mum nor that it had Mickey Mouse on it, but the kind, funny words that she had taken the time to write had put a smile on my face and subdued my homesickness in a much more heart warming way than I think a 140 character tweet could have.

Maybe Disney themed cards are silly and sentimental, maybe meeting face-to-face is more expensive and time consuming than logging on, signing in and typing a quick message, but we shouldn't let such advances in technology replace our physical interactions.

Once in a while, instead of being glued to our phones or laptop screens, we should physically pick up the phone and literally say hi. Who knows, someone might just even log off and pick up...

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