Over a billion people (I still shake my head in disillusion at that number) use the social networking site Facebook. Everybody is on it. Even your mother.
So why did Facebook explode in popularity, and most importantly, how does it keep people coming back?
It's all about connection.
Some people will argue that social networks are about nothing more than getting attention, not connecting to people. I disagree. It is the connection aspect that has helped Facebook get 1 out of every 7 people in the world on their site.
But is too much connection bad for us? Is being too connected end up being to our detriment?
When I walk in my high school class on Sunday morning, I usually see two things: 1) Kids sleeping because they stayed up way too late on Saturday night and Sunday at 10AM is just too early (hope you're catching the sarcasm here), and 2) the ones who are not napping are glued to their cell phones. Kids literally sitting right next to one another are checking Twitter and Facebook and texts on their phone instead of talking to the person they see once a week.
These devices connect us more than ever before. We get news, weather and status updates at the speed of light and at our fingertips. Yet, I think we're farther apart from connecting with those around us than ever before.
Take the grandmother I talked to after Thanksgiving last year.
"I had all my grandkids over and you know what, all they did all day was have their nose buried in those cell phones."
Kids are easy to pick on in this example, but it hits adults badly too. How many people have you talked to that don't hear a word you say in a 5-minute one-way conversation because they're texting someone else?
Just walk down the road in a busy city or go to a coffee shop and you know what I'm talking about.
So how can we solve this problem? How do we reconnect with those around us?
1) Just put the phone down or turn it off. I've heard the new trend with a group of friends at a restaurant is putting all your phones in a pile in the middle of the table, and whoever grabs theirs first pays for everyone. If no one grabs theirs at the end of the meal, then everyone just pays for themselves. I've even heard of a coffee shop in New York who doesn't allow cell phones or any devices on certain nights in order to promote conversation.
2) Make a conscious effort to pay attention. Most time we don't even realize how much we're looking at the tiny screens in our hands and not paying attention to those right in front of us. It's flat out rude.
3) Place a priority on human interaction versus digital interaction. Can something be done in person? Then make it happen. Have a cup of coffee or lunch…in person.
We can all retake our human interactions back if we can just place a priority over face-to-face and not faces in our phones.