Connecting, connected, or not?

I recently posted a comment on the excellent blog Mindfulness and Psychotherapy, by Elisha Goldstein at PsychCentral.com. His blog entry was a commentary on how/whether Facebook (and Twitter, and all of the other ways we “connect” virtually) can harm friendships.

So here I am, now adding blogging to all of my other “social network” outlets — and yet, as my comment on Elisha’s blog makes clear, I feel pretty strongly that we head into some dangerous territory as we’re having more and more e-contact, and less and less face-to-face connection.

The other important element missing when we lose face-to-face time is that our brains are wired to connect with people, live and in person. It builds important neurological connections which are necessary for us to thrive (and, I believe, survive).

Lou Cozolino writes (in his book, The Neurobiology of Relationships) that “the brain depends on interactions with others for its survival.” If you isolate one neuron in a Petri dish, it won’t survive very long; it needs the connections with other neurons to survive. I believe the same is true if we, in effect, isolate our brains by hiding out from actual, not virtual, connections.

Simply put, Facebook, Twitter, etc. are leading us to be “more connected” in ways which aren’t enough to foster survival, growth and well-being.

Like you, I’m on Facebook and Twitter (@DrMarsha), and I obviously read blogs and leave comments ;), but I find for myself and my patients that a healthy, sizeable dose of face-to-face time is, quite literally, vital.

What nerve! My first blog post and I’m slamming, well, blogging and twittering and all the rest of the things that we complicatedly wired human beings do. I think I’d better go redeem myself and have some face-time with a friend.

What do you think? Are your friendships better or worse as a result of your time and energy on Facebook, Twitter, and the like?

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