I just met this guy from Lebanon, Walid (he fixed a broken window in my house, and did a fantastic job). He moved to the US 4 years ago with his family to get away from the economy and general discord in Lebanon right now. And get this: Walid does not Twitter.
Walid likes Raleigh just fine (it's safe, pretty, he's found good work and his business is growing), except for one major adjustment: he continues to be amazed by the ghost-town neighborhoods he drives through every day. Walid told me that in Lebanon (as in most other parts of the world, I think), there are people walking around the streets all the time. Kids are outside, people are talking, and you see your extended family multiple times a week. In the US? Well, we have MySpace.
Yesterday, I saw that blogging makes you happier and that babies now have a social network. Progress! Don't get me wrong - LinkedIn, FaceBook and Twitter have helped me connect with all sorts of great people in new ways - but is it at the expense of the time-tested old way of actually walking out of my house and talking to my neighbors? Could be.
At the risk of throwing the baby out with the bath-water, here's the big idea: try Twittering when you are with someone else. Heck, have a Twitter party - great wine, great music, and Twitter on your 42" plasma. Turn over the keyboard to your friends, and have at it. My bet is it turns into a pretty fun evening. Social social networking is born.