The UN-Social Network

By Darlene Coleman

Recently, a friend called to ask if he could join me for a walk across the John Ringling Bridge, which spans the bay in Sarasota, FL. I was delighted and eager to spend some time catching up, while getting a little fresh air and exercise, so we set a time. We met the next morning bright and early, and the day greeted us with beautiful blue skies and temperatures in the 70s. Perfect…or so I thought. Within the first five minutes of our walk together, my friend received a phone call. Answering, he began to talk about this problem and that issue—and during that time he also received a text message. He then placed the first caller on speaker phone so that he could now text this new person while still talking to the other, as well as walking with me. In the midst of all of this, he took a picture and posted it to Facebook, after which he tweeted that he was “Walking…#Ringling Bridge.”

I watched as my friend began to disappear before my very eyes.

He was fast becoming the invisible man. He wasn’t present with me, he wasn’t present with the person who had called, and he wasn’t present for the person he was texting. He was nowhere. I began to wonder, “Is Social Media causing us to become UN-social?” Could something designed to connect us actually be dividing us? And what, after all, is it that we are seeking as we stare endlessly into one little device or another? We all seem to want connection and yet, it’s more important how we “look” on Facebook versus how we show up in real life.

Most likely we’ve all been guilty of it.

We sit across from one another at dinner and nervously check emails and texts, scan Facebook to see who’s done what. I see children, younger and younger, never looking up or engaging with the world around them as their little eyes remain glued to the screen in their hands. I wonder what the long-term effects will be.

When I was little, we would spend hours playing outdoors and using our imaginations. We explored and looked at insects and built forts, which I would highly recommend for any developing mind. Today, it seems as though we are ever increasingly drawn into a world of “boxes”—where many never experience the joy of walking through a forest, or dipping one’s feet into a cold stream, or sleeping under the stars.

I don’t think people realize what they’re missing!

With that being said, I do realize the many benefits of social media. In addition to staying in touch with friends and family, it has connected us in ways that would have been impossible before. It has shown me and others a world we never even knew existed, and my consciousness has expanded as a result. I just hope in the future we aren’t all just a group of massive brains connecting only through technology, invisible but for the fiber optics. Hmmm…Maybe we already are.

Darlene Coleman is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps who was meritoriously promoted twice and honorably discharged. She went on to a career as a professional paramedic-firefighter in the greater Washington D.C. area, where she also hosted the local television program, “Fire and Rescue Digest.” She has completed extensive studies in holistic healing that have resulted in the development of successful treatments for relieving emotional and physical pain experienced by children, adults, and seniors. A graduate of Bennett-Stellar University, Darlene works with a variety of clients, ranging from professional athletes to writers. She is also the author of the “I-Stop Smoking Workbook” and addiction-cessation program. Contact her by email:


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