Facebook no substitute for face time

Don’t get me wrong: I love Facebook. How else would I remember my friends’ birthdays? And those friends and family members not on Facebook? Tough noogies—I guess you’re not getting a “Happy birthday” from me this year. Or even an HBD (because really, who has time to write out “Happy Birthday” in full?).

Joking aside, Facebook has become an obsessive way for me to keep up-to-speed with the happenings in my friends’ lives. Without it I wouldn’t know that Alex has a new car, Cameron’s off to see Pearl Jam tonight or that my cousin Sarah carried 23 textbooks home in the rain yesterday.

Now I’m not trashing Facebook—I definitely think it has its benefits. But as clever as it is at connecting us with friends and family far and wide, it does only offer pretty superficial interactions.

Tina on a snack break at the Hole in the Wall.

This hit home for me last weekend when I went for a 16 km hike with my friends Shaun and Tina. The Bruce Trail runs not far from where I live so we decided to make a day of it. We packed lunches and headed out on what was probably the hottest, most humid day of August. Within minutes, rivers of sweat were streaming down my back (Note: I rarely get sweaty using Facebook, so point: Facebook).

The hike started in Speyside (just south of Acton, Ontario) and our goal was to get to the Hole in the Wall landmark about 8 km away (or 16 km round trip). Despite the heat, the hike was great.—very few bugs, some challenging terrain through escarpment country, farmers’ fields and forests. And most importantly: great company.

Without the distractions of things like Facebook, work, appointments, TV or a crowd of other people, it was a perfect opportunity to catch up and engage in good conversation.

As the hike continued we noticed more and more clouds rolling in. We had checked the weather before we left and scoffed at the infinitesimal 40% chance of rain. We would come to regret mocking the rain gods.

Shortly after arriving at the Hole in Wall, and therefore at the furthest possible point from Shaun’s car, it started to spit. Just a light drizzle, not even enough to take the humidity out of the air. Now on the return leg of our journey, we joked that it would probably really start raining once we got to the open fields and out of the protection of the woods.

I guess we had it coming.

Sure enough, the moment we emerged from the trees the skies opened up. And MAN, did it come down. We couldn’t have gotten that wet, that quickly if we’d jumped in a lake. And not just wet, we were drenched.  At one point we huddled against a tall tree to shield us from the driving rains but quickly abandoned that idea for two reasons:

  1. We were just asking to be struck by lightning; and
  2. It wasn’t as if we could get any more wet. Trying to stay dry seemed a bit silly at that point.

We bowed our heads and pushed onward.

Naturally, as soon as we once again entered the forested section of the trail, the rain abated.

Our legs were like jelly by the time we reached the vehicle. Despite the rain it had been a great day and was awesome to have that much time together. We ate dinner in Acton and went back to my place for some Bananagrams (which Tina cheats at by the way), red wine and a couple movies. Of course, following a 16 km hike with several glasses of red wine meant that we were all asleep by 11 pm. The next morning we had a leisurely breakfast before Shaun and Tina headed home.

We’re all busy. And it’s unrealistic to expect quality time with friends and family all of the time. But be careful not to rely on things like Facebook too much. Be sure to make plans from time to time for some real face time; be it a guys’ weekend trip, an intimate family dinner or even a relaxed phone conversation just to catch up with an old friend.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Friendship should be surrounded with ceremonies and respects, and not crushed into corners. Friendship requires more time than poor busy men can usually command.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

How do you make room for friends and family?


Funny stories. Good advice. Josh Martin is the author of the book “Simple(ton) Living: Lessons in balance from life’s absurd moments.” Click here to learn more and to purchase a copy.

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One Response to Facebook no substitute for face time

  1. Moira M says:

    Thanks for the post, Josh! I was reminded that fb is not a substitute for live interaction when I got a call from Meme last night. Anyway, I was glad that fb gave me a place to start our conversation–this season’s babies, the tornado, family moving or visiting out West, but it was nice to hear a little more detail in a live (if not f2f) conversation. I was reminded of how much I love talking to her and resolved to pick up the phone and call her more often. It also reminded me that I need to start planning my next visit!

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