Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites are great tools for communication.
Social networks help us keep in tune with what’s going on no matter where we are — whether it is sports games, big news stories, TV shows and more.
But those same online communication tools also give us a false sense of being together with family and friends when we are nowhere near our loved ones.
We’ve become so engrained with technology that we almost feel like we’re there when something happens.
Consider how Twitter users react to live TV events, such as last night’s Tony Awards, where viewers were able to tweet live along as various performances happened and awards were presented.
We’re able to sit in our bedrooms, living rooms or wherever and be part of a large virtual coffee shop.
But how engaging and exciting is live tweeting an event compared to sitting around a TV with a bunch of friends, sharing memorable moments and slices of pizza.
You can’t tweet a piece of pizza to a friend.
So, I always find it difficult when folks try being part of a group via some social network, as if everything is normal, posting messages about family events and other outings they physically missed but felt as though they were part of.
It doesn’t work that way.
Think about how relationships need a good dose of physical social interaction to keep them going. E-mails between family and friends, text messages, tweets and phone calls just don’t cut it.
I always think about relationships of soldiers on active duty and their spouses and families and friends. Those are situations where relationships are put to extreme tests, with limited communication in many cases.
For at least a year growing up, my father traveled for work weekly — often leaving Sunday night and returning Friday night. It put major strains on the relationships with him and my mother and between him and my brother and I.
He missed holidays, little league baseball games, school concerts, family dinners and just the basic parts of life that offer so many memories and special moments.
I can’t speak specifically for what my parents did to make their relationship work during that time, but I know my dad didn’t last long in that job because he recognized he was losing valuable time with family.
He’d call as often as possible — usually, twice daily. But that phone call never was as important as him physically being here.
The same holds true in today’s world, where tweets and Facebook posts are more common than phone calls.
No tweet or Facebook message even comes close to being as important as spending quality physical time together.
And sometimes, folks like to say that “things get in the way of life.”
Things get in the way of life because we fail to remember that our interpersonal relationships are the most important part of our humanity. Sadly, many people realize this far too late in life, and think online interactions are just as fine.
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not celebrate Christmas or other important holidays over video messaging or tweets.
These are things in life you don’t get back. You can’t recreate special moments with friends.
Reminiscing over an Internet post pales in comparison to being there.
We don’t gain more time in life. We lose it. So let’s start learning to live in the moment with those who are in our lives and make those moments count.
twoday magazine wants to know: Do you feel as though your personal relationships are enhanced by social networking or hurt by it? Share with us on our Facebook page. (Oh, the irony!)
Follow @twodaymag on Twitter.
Like this article from twoday magazine contributor, Bobby Cherry? Check out some of his other great articles for twoday magazine: