getting face-to-face

Last week, I got to do what every good suburban, almost 40, mother of three should do on a Wednesday night. Meet up with friends, strap on my assault weapon and play some laser tag.

This was my first experience playing, and I have to say it was a rush to sneak around the dark room, hide behind walls and windows and blast someone with a laser the minute I could see her white teeth glowing in the black lights.

Despite my cat-like reflexes, incredible speed and killer instincts, I managed to come in 15th out of 18, both rounds. I’m pretty sure my gun wasn’t working properly or perhaps it was my attitude. “OH… I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to kill you AGAIN!” I once heard myself utter.

But the best part about the evening was just getting face-to-face with some girlfriends. You know the kind. The ones with skin. They kind of flinch if you bump into them and even have a scent if you get close enough.

On that particular day, I was feeling kind of like the characters in the movie, “Wall-E” after they were all thrust out of their transport chairs and their video screens were broken.

“We have a pool on board the ship?!” one guy exclaimed in the movie, as his eyes readjusted to looking at real life, not his video terminal. “I didn’t know we had a pool!”

You see, last week was also when I joined Facebook.

I now realize I must be one of the last 15 people in Western Civilization to join this interesting society. Several people had tried to encourage me to join by telling me how great it was that I would be able to connect with “people I haven’t talked to in 20 years.”

Being the skeptic that I am, I kept thinking, “If I haven’t communicated with someone in 20 years, maybe there’s a reason.”

Oh… but that hasn’t been the case at all. It really is fun to connect with old friends.

In case you are one of the 14 people remaining on the outer sphere of Facebook, here’s how it works. The search engine takes your information and searches for other people you might know. You then are able to connect, with say, someone you haven’t talked to since high school, and they provide little news feeds about their daily life.

“Jennifer is feeling really giddy this morning because she just ate a chocolate-frosted donut.”
“Cathy is happy this afternoon because she downed a cafe mocha.”

Adding to the fun (and making it feel even a bit more like high school to me, anyway), Facebook lists how many “friends” everyone has. You can search around and invite people to become your friend, or they can invite you. So far, I have five friends.

But I find myself becoming impressed with others who have, for example 288. Yup. Hundreds of friends giving updates everyday.

At first, I wasn’t sure whether to love it or hate it. But I figure that now that I’m in, there’s no turning back. I might as well enjoy it!

“Emily is scrambling three eggs this morning and pouring a big glass of orange juice.”

But here’s the point of this rambling blogthing:

As we become more and more connected to people via the Internet, are we starting to lose some of our real-life connections? Why pick up the phone and call a friend when you can just check Facebook, or read her blog? How much time do we spend sitting in front of our computers when we could be outside enjoying life or playing a game with our kids?

At the same time, there are some great benefits to the networking capability of the Internet. I started becoming a regular blog reader when a friend found out she had cancer and began giving us updates via her blog. It was so cool to see that she and her husband literally reached thousands of people around the world with their story of faith before she died in July. And I loved being able to “hear her voice” even at times when she was too week to speak.

So, I guess as with anything, I will have to keep my Facebooking in moderation. It’s fun to peek into someone else’s life and hear what they’re up to. And I truly enjoy reading some of the thought-provoking, funny or sad entries of my blogging friends.

Still, it does feel good when it’s time to SHUT DOWN.

“Laser tag, anyone?”

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