In today’s age of accessing social media through multiple devices and mobile phones, have we lost the ability to communicate with one another without this medium?
Are we becoming too detached from real life experiences? In my research on the topic, there have been a few articles and research that have pointed to this phenomenon.
This distraction of social media has also made it to morning television to prove a point:
Phone companies are even asking us to put our phones down:
What is interesting is the underlying motivator behind all social interaction – the need to promote one’s ego and the need to check up on your friends and colleagues (in a big brother type of way). This is disguised as ‘news’ and the information is essentially always there (you can always call or meet with them) however it’s presented in an efficient way. Does this promote increased ‘spying’ on your friends and acquaintances? Absolutely. On one hand you will learn a lot about acquaintances (and probably more about your friends) that you may not have known. On the other hand, it is making us very lazy. Think about it. When was the last time you called a friend that you used to speak regularly with, rather than texting or messaging or posting to their profile?
I had a few friends who decided to test out a theory – whether friends would call them if they disappeared off social media and closed their accounts. Guess what? Some were noticed by other friends as missing and received calls from friends in a panic because they wanted to know what happened and if everything was ok. Other friends didn’t feel as much love. These friends realised that many of their friends were too busy to pay attention and decided that they would re-join the sites again. Some of those friends decided that the friends that didn’t even realise weren’t actually friends and decided to treat them as such (both in the online and offline world).
This leads to another issues that is brewing; addiction. We have become so addicted to promoting our egos and the constant worry that we will ‘miss out’ on the latest event or ‘news’ in our friends’ worlds that we actually miss what is happening in the real world in front of us. I have been just as guilty of this. Think about it. How many times have you been in a position where you have had an important event – a birthday, graduation, wedding etc and you have struggled to even clap because you are too busy recording the video or taking a photo of the moment so you don’t miss out? Take it a step further and this photo becomes a profile update or tweet. The amount of times I’ve been out with friends (who have the best intentions and are great people), but are busy updating their status or tagging someone at a location to show they ‘have a life’, has been increasing on a weekly basis.
Then there’s the dreaded ‘selfie’. This very saying is the epitome of what it is all about – the ego.
Conversations are becoming less meaningful with the depth of a conversation becoming shallower due to the constant distraction of social media. Attention is fast disappearing and is now becoming more focused on the social media platforms we hold so dear.
If this continues, I fear a world in which the next generation will not be able to communicate over a simple catch up at a café or a friend’s place, but will be done through social media (even in the same room) because the communication skills are lacking.
If you think this isn’t going to happen, I can only point to the reliance on computers for communication rather than hand-writing. This has led to a plethora of illegible handwriting from many adults and even poor spelling and grammar due to our favourite time-saver: autocorrect.
My advice? Use in moderation and don’t forget to live in the actual moment. Balance is the key to a meaningful experience. Have times where you will ‘catch up’ on the latest news from your friends and enjoy the time you have with your loved ones in the present. Enjoy the present because it is what guides your future.