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There’s irony in the social media concept

Published: Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013 11:42 a.m. CDT

After nearly three years with my handy iPhone 3 — a product nearly considered “vintage” by Apple’s standards — about a week ago I decided it was time for an upgrade.

I didn’t get anything too fancy, just an updated version of the same phone, but the extra internal capacity allowed to me to download far more applications than I’d had on my old phone.

Most smartphones allow you to categorize these “apps” into various subgroups: I have my notepad, voice recorder and work email in a folder labeled “Daily News,” my iTunes, music and online radio in another. What stuck out to me, though, was the sheer number of programs that fell into the category of social media on my phone.

I’m on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest, just to name a few, and I (perhaps sadly) utilize them every day. Comparing that little section to my list of recent calls was even more dismal as I realized that I don’t connect with people in-person or over the phone as often as I should, especially with the news that broke about Notre Dame star linebacker Manti Te’o yesterday.

In a nutshell for those of you who haven’t heard, T’eo made headlines all season not only for his prowess on the field, but also for playing through his girlfriend’s leukemia and leading the team over Michigan State shortly after her death. Yesterday it was announced — and the details are still hazy — that much of what happened was part of an elaborate online hoax and that, per birth and death records, the girl never actually existed.

This made me take a step back and think about not only the impersonal aspect of using technology to “connect” with my friends and family, but all the things you just don’t know online.

It’s a bit of Catch-22 for us as journalists because, as technology advances, we’re supposed to advance right along with it without compromising the relationships we build with readers in our community. 

As easy as it is to think that, just because my old college roommates are in graduate school across the country or that my grandparents live in Florida, it’s enough to type them a quick message on Facebook, it really just makes me feel lazy.

Don’t put those relationships on the back burner of your web browser. Just 20 years ago, that kind of connection required, at the very least, a phone call — and that wasn’t so difficult, was it? On that note, excuse me while I give my mom a call.

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