NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- I have a friend with whom I tend to communicate daily. Even though we met just a few months ago -- and not even in person -- I consider him a friend. We share common interests and appear to enjoy one another's company.
But, it's weird, we have been together in the flesh (no jokes from the insecure in their sexuality testosterone-fueled peanut gallery, please) just one time. A few weeks ago for a few hours on a trip I made from NYC to DC. Our friendship takes place, almost exclusively, over email, text message, Twitter and, occasionally, telephone. That's no longer strange; in fact, it's increasingly becoming the norm.
And that's a good thing. I am this flavor of friend with way more people than I was just a few years ago, let alone 10 or 20. Social media, led by Twitter and Facebook (FB - Get Report), disrupted tech and related spaces, but it also redefined terms such as "friendship." More levels exist and your #bestie could very well be somebody you have never actually met in person.
But there's a creepy downside to this positive outcome.For large numbers of people, the artist formerly known as RIM -- BlackBerry (BBRY - Get Report) -- started the trend. The CrackBerry addictions many of us had came on the heels of "beepers" making us always accessible. RIM just upped the game with instant email and what would become Messenger. Apple (AAPL - Get Report) came along and, in concert with the emergence of social media, eerily upped the game. Now, relative to the days when you could not get hold of somebody, we're always accessible. And, even moreso, for many of us, it's always possible for quite a few people -- even complete strangers -- to track our comings, goings and absences. Even without GPS or NSA clearance. That's a somewhat obvious modern world gripe, but I hope to take it a philosophical step or two farther. Last night I texted my friend. He did not reply. That's not unprecedented, but it is odd. So last night -- and this is the creepy part -- I looked to his Twitter account. He hadn't Tweeted for a few hours. Also weird. A few hours later I checked again -- creepy -- and still no Tweets. No replies to my texts either. I woke this morning and same thing -- no Tweets for 16 hours (!) and no replies to my texts.