Social networking sites like Facebook have been called anti-social because they encourage people to communicate in the form of status updates. A status update, like a Tweet, is usually a short, purely narcissistic, remark. It is kind of like arriving at a cocktail party, and instead of greeting someone with, “Hi, how are you?” saying, without preamble, “I just got a new iPad.” You just wouldn’t do it in person, but, for some reason, it feels ok online.
After my baby was born, I felt very disconnected. I had left my friends, and the baby’s father, in Central America. I was with my family in California, but before becoming a mother, I had been a very social person. Not internet social, real life social. I belonged to a Women’s Club and was involved in organizing fundraising parties and dinners. My tight group of friends got together all the time. I missed the camaraderie. There is nothing like sitting with your girlfriends, having a glass of wine and planning a party.
When Social Networking is Not Working
So, after I returned to the states, my only connections to them became online ones, like facebook, emails, skype. They loved getting updates and photos about my baby, but I didn’t have anybody in my life who was going through any of the same things I was. I felt lonely. I recognized the fact that I was missing real social interactions and facebook just wasn’t going to be enough. I wasn’t unhappy at all, nor was I suffering any kind of depression. In fact, more than anything I missed being able to share my joy and happiness with my friends who were so far away. My family was overjoyed to have me around, and were hopelessly in love with MiniMe. Life was good, but I just knew it could be better.
Finding Real Connections
One day, at the public library I found a little flyer for a local mom’s club. I sent an email and the one I got in reply suggested I join Meetup so I could see the events they had planned. I did, and it changed my life. Meetup is filled with groups of people who actually get together and do things! Probably no matter what your interest, you will find people to meet with on this site. Like other networking sites, you can send each other messages and post photos, but the main purpose of this site is not to show off or let people know what you are doing. It is to organize get togethers.
Since joining that first meetup moms club, I found another one that has even more going on. Having a group of moms with babies and kids of varying ages has made my own experience as a new mother even more fulfilling. We get together with our kids several times a week, sometimes in parks, other times at members’ homes. We have formed a babysitting co-op to help each other out. We have formed strong friendships and so have our kids. This is real life social networking!
Vanessa Green is a social media expert and digital marketing professional who works with the Palms hotel in Las Vegas. She often writes in her free time and likes to analyze the role of social media in today’s society.
Photo Credit: DevelopmentCorporate