Take your social life back from technology
February 20, 2012 | 12:00 am
(Updated: February 22, 2013 | 3:47 pm)
Many of us get frustrated with our culture’s reliance on the Internet and electronic formats for our social lives. But despite the negative and unsatisfying aspects of trying to connect this way, all the time and effort can seem worth it when you click in person with someone you met online.
I want to help all of you develop some ways to protect your head, heart, and self-esteem when pursuing these activities – instead of letting them make you feel crappy. These ideas are also good to keep in mind to avoid turning into “one of those guys” who makes other people feel injured online.
Be careful not to fall into looking for only the “perfect” option for an encounter. There are many fantastic “average” looking or sounding prospects who can offer hours of enjoyment. Many people search for the absolute best possibility they think will bring the most mind-blowing experience ever. But this thought process usually only gets us more alone time staring at a computer. Just as a person can be funny without being a comedian, some people can be brilliant without a master’s degree, or screw really well without being built like a porn star. Keep in mind that almost none of us are in the top 1 percent of sexy people on the planet, so quit looking for that top 1 percent to hit on us only to be disappointed or bitter because they don’t.
Sometimes the potential for awkwardness when meeting someone in person keeps us from moving past online chatting. If you are socially uncomfortable or have difficulty carrying on a conversation face-to-face, then work on your communication skills and quit running away from discomfort. You improve your skill and charm by practice, not avoidance.
Many concerning behaviors are all too common in online interactions, like a lack of common courtesy, kindness, and honesty. Sometimes the web gives some people the feeling that being rude is OK. If someone sends you a message and you are not interested, simply respond with a “no thank you” or choose not to respond at all. You don’t have to email a scathing response intended to hurt their feelings. Don’t waste energy on a novel about how someone is not your type or how tragic you think he is.
If you are faced with one of the previously mentioned rude replies, just suck it up and move on. Hopefully your self-esteem has not been destroyed. Arguing or biting back will not make someone want to meet you, and if your ego is feeling fragile, try finding some other activities that make you feel more fulfilled and go back to online surfing only in limited doses until you have your confidence back.
If a chat is going well, arrange to talk over the phone or make plans to meet. Many people that can come up with witty comments online but can’t do it spontaneously in person – and with a lack of physical contact and social exchange, some people lose skills important to picking up on social cues like body language. It takes practice and an active interest in reading people to get good at it. There are books and classes that can help with some hints if you’re interested in learning techniques.
Be weary of those who won’t talk to you on the phone or are avoidant of meeting in person. Not only is there a chance they’ll never agree to meet, it’s also very possible that these types are misrepresenting themselves. Some are married to women, already partnered, or lying about other things. Some people are playing a sexy online persona – where they get to play the vixen and do some dirty talk. If this isn’t your end goal, don’t waste your time.
Don’t forget technology is created to improve our quality of life, not make it more complicated or painful. Also remember that although you are looking at an electronic version of someone’s profile or pictures, there is a real person there. Be careful not to lose your humanity or your ability to connect with people face-to-face. We are all human and deserve respect, friendship, and love. Hopefully you can find balance between this incredible tool and personal interaction.