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"Disconnect to Connect" Tip for the Day: Ditch the Technology and Enjoy Some REAL Social Networking

We have become a society of constantly being preoccupied with the use constant use technology. It's amazing to me how connected and disconnected we are at the same time.

by Patricia Phelan Clapp

I know. I feel like a faker. Here I am telling you to "plug off" when I am totally plugged in.

But after much research, and yes, conversation the old fashioned way, you will be reading less from me via your computer screen and seeing the live version of PPC in the days to come and this is why.

I feel as though we are becoming more lonely over the past five years than ever - despite posting, Tweeting, and blogging . Technology has virtually taught us another way to interact and it has changed the entire sphere of how we live, speak and engage.

Funny thing is - we are more socially plugged in than ever - well kind of. We may know everything there is to know about everybody via status updates and Tweets, but, on the flip side, know very little. And worse, we don't even know who we are talking to.

And to me, that is the sad part.

A few Sundays ago, my son, Jake, had a few friends over. Granted, I keep in touch with them via smileys and funny instant messages through Facebook.  But to me, nothing replaces the smile I get when they walk in the house or the laughter I hear when they start teasing each other. With this face to face interaction - aka REAL time  - you have the benefit of socially, emotionally and yes, even spiritually, connecting to the people around you. And nothing beats a live version of watching 200 lb. football players practice Dance Dance Dance on the WiI.

What an added bonus of weekend entertainment.

Yet, the problem still remains, with all of this technology, we have become a society of constantly being preoccupied and not knowing what to do with ourselves when we are alone or worse yet, in the company of others. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen my kids and their friends texting other people while sitting together in a room that is totally silent. It's amazing to me how connected and disconnected we are at the same time.

I am thinking,  "Helloo? Isn't this why you asked me to have your friends over? To actually see them live?"

What's the antidote? I think we need to take a stand, shut down and decompress. And actually have some face to face interaction as "real" time.

Shut off the computer, ditch the smart phones and go back to the old days when you were not constantly distracted with beeps, ding dongs, and all the other noises we hear hundreds of times a day.  Actually listen to your kid when s/he is talking to you about something (even if it doesn't sound too thrilling) Yes, we parents are just as guilty of surfing the web while in a meeting, having a conversation (or trying to at least) and worse yet, even in church.

How can we expect our kids to connect with us, if we continually take a left turn and check out in the land of Facebook or email when they are talking? (Droid, Blackberry and iPhone users: we are all guilty of this at one time or another)

Yup - I have an iPhone. And yup - me too.

As a business coach and social media consultant, I have studied the pro's and con's to socially interacting via online and there is no doubt in my mind that it has its place. It does give us a social outlet when we are in our pj's on a rainy Saturday morning. I agree.  For me, it has been fun to connect with friends, college roommates, family members from all around the world that I would have normally lost touch with. And yes, online branding and networking has an exorbitant amount of potential for businesses.

However, the key is to keep it as a TOOL and not a REPLACEMENT for face to face interaction.

To me, there is no replacement for seeing a genuine smile or hearing a silly chuckle. This is worth so much more than a smiley face in an email or LOL at the end of the text.

Way more.

Now plug off, shut down, de-Facebook and go out to enjoy this beautiful spring day. Because in REAL time, it doesn't get much better (and realer) than this. And see how you good you feel when you start to connect the old fashioned way.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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