From Goooooal to Noooooo!

From Goooooal to Noooooo!

The World Cup has started. People who normally don’t post much online about sports are taking to social media and shouting GOOAAALLLLL!!!!

Recent Sunday nights have had people watching Game of Thrones shouting NOOOOOOOOOO!!!

It can seem strange, people posting these things on their social media feeds with the assumption that others will know what they are talking about. But connections are made…

The Importance of Connection

It’s easy to say that social media leaves us all with a sense of connection where there is none. I see so many people say, “Nobody gets together in person anymore.” Yet, every time I go to restaurants to meet friends for lunch, they are packed with people getting together in person. To hear it from some, the only things in the streets are tumbleweeds and blowing leaves because people are all inside, “connecting” through social media when they “should” be meeting in person.

First, the notion that what works for one should work for all is a bit presumptuous. If a person wants to connect through social media and not in person, that’s their right. I understand the sentiment, though; I enjoy when I’m with people in person. I leave my phone in my pocket when visiting others — but that’s my thing. (My phone is always muted — it doesn’t even vibrate — and has no push notifications set. That’s what works for me, but I don’t come unhinged if a friend jumps on Facebook and says, “Having lunch at Al Wadi with Chris.” For whatever reason, that connection to a larger group is important for someone in the moment.)

Ranting online about people not behaving the way you want them to behave online is the digital equivalent of shouting, “You kids get off my lawn!” There are some people I will not see in person because they cannot stay off their phones, but that doesn’t mean I think they are wrong in the way they choose to connect with others. It’s just not my idea of a good time.

When I Avoid Twitter

While I understand this connection in the moment, when the Super Bowl, Oscars, or any big TV event that can be shared online comes around, I avoid social media. I find millions of people all watching the same thing and talking about it in their feeds fascinating, but it often moves from simply making a connection to displaying like a bird in mating season — a struggle to come up with the funniest (or snarkiest) tweet in the hope of retweets and 34 seconds of Internet fame. But is there anything really wrong with that?

I have never watched an episode of Walking Dead or Game of Thrones, but I know quite a bit about the shows, simply by seeing friends’ social media feeds lighting up on evenings new shows air. I know that tonight the San Antonio Spurs have a chance to win the championship…and while I have never been a basketball fan, for the sake of some friends, I hope San Antonio wins. I’ll know if they win through Twitter and Facebook tonight, just as I know what’s happening in the World Cup, even though I’ve only watched about 10 minutes of one game so far.

In a way, it’s not much different than talking about sports in a bar.

“It’s Not Real”

I’ve seen people say that connecting with others online isn’t “real”; that somehow, since the connection is made digitally, that it’s less than face-to-face connections. (Never mind that there are millions of people who can’t get out and around; for them, an online world has opened up so much to them!) But I understand the sentiment.

I prefer talking to people in person when I can, but I’ll say this: if I meet you face-to-face and all you can talk about are sports stats, for me, I can get a better connection with people online talking about deeper things. I’m not knocking sports or people who can only talk in stats — I believe adults should do and talk about what they want if that’s their thing — but I would see a conversation on Google Plus about writing and creating things more “real” to me than sitting in a bar and listening to someone spout off sports stats, rant about politics, or fume about how social media is destroying society.

It’s All Real (If We Want It To Be)

I’ve had great conversations about writing and creating online and offline. I don’t see one any better than the other. Online, I have the ability to talk about writing with people in other states and countries. I can get a much wider view of what’s being discussed than I could if I talked with the same handful of people, face-to-face. There are some face-to-face conversations I can predict before they even happen, and there are times I sidestep those meetings and write a blog entry in the hope of discussion about a topic, or take to social media and see who has the time to discuss things.

I’d go as far as saying that going into the world of an online role playing game and talking with people can be more “real” than the experience of going to a club just to be seen and stand around with a drink in hand, bobbing my head to music. For others, life doesn’t get much better than going to a club and holding a drink while bobbing one’s head to music.

The connections made by being seen in a club, typing “GOOOOOOOAL!!!” online (knowing others are watching with you), or having an in-depth talk about something that means a lot to those involved — whether online or in person — is as real as people want the moment to be.

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