Todd Essig has a thoughtful post about how social networks have affected the process of saying good-bye in our culture. Now that the hospital where he works is closing, he anticipated more than the usual end-of-school-year good-byes. Instead, he’s seen less: as one of his residents observed, “there has been more ‘see you on Facebook!’ and ‘I’ll follow you on Twitter‘” than actual goodbyes.

While social networks promise to help us keep in touch, that same promise may deprive us of a meaningful good-bye, Essig writes:

The fact that social networks are transforming the often messy difficult process of good-bye is no surprise. But I’m not so sure this is such a good thing. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s not: not because there’s anything wrong with staying in touch with old friends and former colleagues online—actually, that can be pretty great—but because processes of saying good-bye can be so psychologically rich and valuable it would be a real shame to lose the experience just because we now have a technologically-mediated easy way out.

So what makes a good-bye so important? Read Essig’s 4 reasons for good-bye: Keep ‘social networking’ from becoming ’social notworking’ in Psychology Today.