Tag Archives: family

It’s Complicated…

28 Apr

Rarely do I feel like its a good idea for anyone with any hope of ever maintaining a relationship to broadcast their status as “It’s Complicated” but when it comes to myself and facebook that expression sums it up pretty well.

Facebook has gone from yet one more online account that I maintained simply for the sake of owning my favorite handle everywhere; to a slightly addictive tool I used to share baby pics with my Grandmother; then to another software platform in which to code  web apps; later it became a time leach to be conquered. Finally, with the help of some third parties, Facebook and I have come to an understanding.

With the help of yoono I publish quick thoughts and status updates to my friends and family on Facebook a couple times a day; I also use the small browser app to view a steady stream of updates from my newsfeed. I benefit from the access to my friends and family without Facebook consuming multiple hours of each day.

As ideal as our new arrangement may sound there are still rough spots in our relationship. Access to features like pages are all but non-existent in apps like yoono and I still get sucked into viewing all 400 photos of a wedding for a friend I haven’t had any meaningful interactions with for a decade more frequently then I’d like to admit.

It’s no where near perfect but the outlook for our relationship is stable, if complicated.

Can the Internet Produce Better Relationships?

1 Apr

As internet communication becomes a greater part of everyday living for more and more people the question is presented, “Are Online Relationships Better than Real Life Relationships?” While it may be very difficult if not impossible to measure the value of a relationship many hints can be found to help us. The biggest measure has to do with the way people feel about their relationships. After all, it is all about perception isn’t it?

There are two main premises for the idea that the internet may be creating better relationships among people than real life socializing alone has done in the past. One theory has to do with introversion, the other with relate-ability and population size. The reality is that both factors probably play a big part in the perception that relationships online are becoming more meaningful than those in real life to many people.

The idea of introverted and extroverted personalities has been made its way from psychology texts to mainstream vocabulary over the past 30 years. Its widely accepted that while introversion may be a great tool for genius creatives or studious academics, extroverted personalities are generally more valued in our business centered society. From the first list-serves to the boom of twitter internet communications have allowed introverts the ability to interact in a more comfortable environment. Relationships can be filtered to find potential friends with common interests, communications can be thought out and drafted in advance and judgement are made son the quality of content rather than external factors of any sort.

The vastness of the internet provides an almost endless number of people to connect with. For individuals that have a trait which separates them from everyone around them this vastness provides the opportunity to meet similar people. NPR recently ran a story about the role that internet communities are playing in the lives of people seeking social support for medical issues. I personally found sites like babycenter.com very helpful for feeling secure about the many many questions that come along with pregnancy.

While a very good case can be made for the quality and value of online relationships, other’s of course would argue that the internet and social media communications are decreasing the value of real life relationships. Its a wonderful thing to have ease of communication (via facebook, etc…) with family that is far away but does it damage the closeness of a relationship when you send pics online to local family rather than stopping by for a 15minute visit?

Family Parties: 2.0

13 Mar

Aside from the now outdated use of the phrase 2.0 to describe anything inovative, today was a wonderful use of social media and technology to bring a 3 year old’s birthday party to a whole new level of family interactions.

After moving 3000 miles across the country to the Bay Area everyone in the family knew that holidays and celebrations would be a little bit different. It just wasn’t logistically possible for every family member in the same location for each and every persons birthday and the borderline excessive number of holidays we have. For 7 years now we have been experimenting with different methods of sharing these special occaisions and I think today we finally got it right.

From the get-go this was a tech-savvy event. Evites were used instead of the traditional mail method, while this was wonderfully efficient and a great way to provide a sense of inclusion to family members that I know wouldn’t be able to make it, there are downsides as well. Many people don’t check email as frequently as some of us do and by the time they see the Evite its just one more suspect message in the sea of inbox spam. Also, I realized there are a number of people I wanted to invite that I don’t communicate with by email (or even facebook). People like neighbors and a couple of elderly relatives had to be invited by phone. Next time I’ll opt for a hybrid Evite/Mail Invite option.

The key to the party inclusion came with google video chat. A quick positioning of a laptop and click of the icon connected the party in California with the grandparents in Indiana. We opted to leave the camera rolling for the whole event which turned out to be great fun. Every so often someone had a quick conversation with the camera and then went about their business again, much like a real party – just in two locations.

The final touch of tech on this party was the wrap-up.  When all was said and done numerous pictures were ready to be shared with family, friends and other parents (everyone wants pics of their kids). Pics went from the phone up to facebook and were ready to be shared within 15min of the party ending. This led to a great amount of discussion from everyone that was at the party as well as all the family and friends who were unable to make it.

So maybe a few more improvements could be made but all in all this was the best social media – interactive – video cast, kids party any of us had experienced yet. For next year… only the imagination limits the possibilities.