Yesterday, as always, I was spending my time on the train obsessively checking Facebook on my phone, as were about half of my fellow passengers.  Once in a while, I stop and realize it–I spend more time than ever following every little thing my friends say, and yet less time than ever in my life actually talking to friends face to face.  

I’ve always been an introvert.  I would get anxious about making a phone call, even if it was to a person I liked (sometimes especially if it was to a person I liked).  I had to push myself to go out and meet people, and still have to.  So our new “chatting with each other through tech gadgets” culture actually makes things easier for me.  I feel much more comfortable commenting on someone’s status on my phone than I would be using that phone to speak to them.  I’m more comfortable spouting my opinions in a blog than at a dinner party.  So this feels fine to me, except for small moments of doubt when I wonder if I should be spending my time playing with real cats as opposed to viewing cat pictures.  (Answer to that question:  no, because I’m allergic to cats.)

But I can only imagine how difficult this new world might be for people who, unlike me, need human interaction.  What would it be like to be a gregarious extrovert in a world in which all you get are virtual hugs and pokes on Facebook?

Then again, the extroverts are probably still doing those things that always made me nervous, making phone calls and meeting their friends.  That’s why they’re out partying on a Friday night and I’m here blogging about modern modes of communication.  Well, that and I’m working tomorrow, so I can’t stay up.  Good night, everyone in online land.

What I used to think Facebook would be like:  An exciting rendezvous with friends, during which we share our secret hopes and fears, express our controversial opinions, and have philosophical debates….

What it is actually like:  A formal dinner party with acquaintances, co-workers and neighbors, during which we make small talk about the weather, quote funny stories we heard on the news, show each other pictures of cute cats and babies…and there are salesmen constantly trying to crash the event.

Mind you, I don’t think this has anything to do with Facebook’s lack of success on the stock market…If Facebook was the kind of place I’d like it to be, its stock value would be even lower.