To Stay Connected, Try Being Less “Connected”

When people talk about staying connected to one another these days, we tend to think first of social media.

With Facebook and Twitter, we can stay connected all day, every day. In fact, you’ll learn what people are having for breakfast, where they’re “checking in” and see adorable photos of their pets drinking from the toilet. And after a while, a gnawing realization begins to sink in.

Ready for it?

Having information about someone is NOT the same as being connected to them. Getting together and looking in someone’s face for even a few minutes trumps months of social media. That’s not to say social media is bad. But it should be put aside for the real thing now and then.

Toyota did an ad for its Venza a while back that is the prefect embodiment of that idea. A young woman complains that her parents only have 19 friends on Facebook, while she has 687. As she sits alone in front of her laptop, she says in a monotone voice, “This is living.” Meanwhile, the ad cuts to scenes of her parents mountain biking with just a few of their living, breathing friends.

If you really want to stay connected, realize that it takes some time and effort. After all, this person is your friend, right? Remember, a Facebook “friend” is not the same as a friend.

Here are a couple ideas, most of which used to be painfully obvious.

Resist the urge to text

Pick up the phone and call when you have time and when you’re not on the run. Don’t try to catch up while you’re driving the kids to soccer (for everyone’s benefit). Do it when you can concentrate only on that conversation. Speak with and listen to and honest-to-goodness human voice.

Write a letter

Not a wall posting. Not a tweet. Not an email. While an old-school email is better than the first two, why not go older school? When’s the last time you got a letter in the mail? These days, it can be an amazing personal gesture.

Keep a calendar with birthdays, just like mom used to do

Or at the very least, keep birthdays on your electronic calendar and have it alert you several days ahead of time. Send a printed birthday card with a handwritten note. A small, inexpensive gift is also a good way to let someone know they’re important to you. Compare that to posting “Happy BD!” on their wall with the other 686 friends.

Go have coffee at a coffee shop

Yes it takes time, and yes, you have to fit it into your schedule, and yes, it’s hard to find that time to fit it into your schedule. THAT’S THE POINT!

Many people connect to old friends through LinkedIn

It’s a fantastic way to break through the ice formed over many years. But aren’t you disappointed when you receive the auto-invite from them? Personally, I find it insulting, lazy and insincere. Really, how genuine can you possibly be when you push a button that immediately produces the line “.… I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” Oh, please. Yes, you can write your own personal invitation, and no, it’s not difficult to figure out how. After you’ve connected, take the opportunity to continue communicating.

Execute a drive-by baking

Or as Betty used to say, “Bake Someone Happy.” Four cupcakes and a note left on the front porch can make someone’s day. Put the treat in a container to keep from feeding the neighbor’s cat. You’ll have to get your container back later. By the way, that’s a positive, not a negative.

Food is the original social medium

Sure, you already have people over for dinner, so mix it up a bit.  Why not a few friends for a laid-back, participatory dinner. A taco bar, for example. Or hoagie bar or a pizza bar (personal pizzas made on the grill). Open cold beverages and get caught up. No sweat.

Movie night

Invite a friend over for a movie. If you can borrow a digital projector from work and show a movie on the wall, that can make the event feel unique.

Go for a walk

If you live near your friend (which certainly doesn’t imply staying connected any more), go for a walk. You’ll get some exercise while you get caught up.

Once you get rolling, you’ll have your own ideas. Still, the essential point is to show you’ve taken the effort to connect, one friend to one friend. Whether it’s through a gesture or a personal get-together, you’ll have broken through and re-energized a friendship and reminded one another why you became friends in the first place.

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Our name is changing, but not our commitment to you!

O’Neill’s Pools has joined forces with Patriot Pool & Spa. Over the coming weeks, the O’Neill’s brand will be transitioning into Patriot Pool & Spa, so you may notice some updated branding on our trucks, uniforms, and bills. Our office location and contact information will remain the same as the O’Neill’s footprint will become our 2nd Austin location: Patriot Pool & Spa – West. 

Same service you expect. Even though our name has changed, rest assured you will continue to receive the same great service. Our priority will continue to be providing you with an excellent experience from the team that you know and trust. 

More pool industry experience at your disposal. As a Patriot Pool & Spa customer, you now have access to a team of pool professionals with hundreds of years of combined swimming pool industry experience.

You’ll find that we’re still your local pool cleaning & repair company — just stronger. During this transition, you can reach us at 512.636.8122 or, for more information about Patriot and the variety of services we offer, visit us at www.patriotpoolandspa for more details.

Thank you for being our customer and giving us the opportunity to continue caring for your pool!


Hal Denbar
Founder, Patriot Pool & Spa
Founding Partner & President, Texas, National Pool Partners

Neil Engelmann
O’Neill’s Pools

Amy Engelmann
O’Neill’s Pools