Making Connections with Social Media

Are we more connected with social media? Facebook is great at reminding me of people’s birthdays and I get to be a voyeur into their lives when they share photos of their latest activities, partners, children, grandchildren or pets. Really I do appreciate being reminded of someone’s birthday because I am very bad at remembering other than my immediate family.  At least I can see that people are still alive when I see their photos. I can wish them Happy Birthday on the right day. I like congratulating them on their achievements if they choose to share. I can click on “like” or make a  comment. But do I feel closer to them? Not really. It is a pseudo closeness.

I resisted Email at first because I felt that it was not a good substitute for letters or phone calls. Then I succumbed to using it because it was a practical way to keep in touch with a distant family member and my daughter when she was in college.

Now the latest form of communication I have adopted is texting. I can see the practicality of texting when I am running around doing a lot and need to quickly remind someone to pick something up at the market or that I am running late. But as an exclusive form of communication, or to check in and say hello, texting is not the best. It is better than nothing and I can use it to make dates to really get together in person or have a phone talk. If it is just having a conversation in abbreviations, I find I can not really get much of a sense of the person I am texting with. With blogging, texting, tweeting or posting on Facebook we do not get the total picture of the person even if we get a photo. What I mean by this is we do not get the body language and facial expression or tone of voice that communicates so much about what is really going on with someone else. We get a few sentences and maybe some emoticons.

We really need to slow down and talk with each other don’t we in order to maintain any real relationship? Do you feel Facebook and texting or tweeting helps to maintain your relationships? Or are you wanting something more? Do you find it distracting and superficial? Like making electronic small talk?

The need to be texting or reading our Facebook page or checking out what is posted on WordPress is a way to entertain ourselves and keep from being bored or lonely but at what cost? It has an addictive quality like playing a video game. It is momentarily distracting and entertaining. It does not make  a demand on us to think about much but the most superficial things. Besides affecting the quality of our relationships I would say it eats up a lot of time we could be using for something more meaningful.

If we let ourselves be controlled by social media it will impact the quality of our lives and what kind of society we live in. If we let ourselves be constantly seduced and distracted by social media it could keep us from fully living our lives. Do you try to balance the time you spend on social media with other activities? Do you make a special effort to un-plug? Do you think it is a good idea to make certain times off-limits to social media or texting like during dinner with your family/kids?

Here is an interesting TED talk on this issue:

Sherry Turkle TED talk Alone Together

18 thoughts on “Making Connections with Social Media

  1. Hariod Brawn

    Thank you for this insightful article Deborah. I do not engage with social media at all, apart from my blog (if one considers blogging a form of social media). I hardly ever use my mobile phone, and always prefer to talk on a landline whenever I can as at least I can then hear what is being said devoid of squawks and static! Talking in person is better still, of course. Technology, as they say, is a useful servant but a terrible master, and all too frequently it is technology that dictates the quality of much of peoples’ lives; and it is not all good; far from it in my opinion.

    I think that a lot of people use social media to project an identity, and this is very often a false one, an implausibly excitable or vitally engaged one. I have seen the great benefits that such mediums can bring at times, yet on the whole feel that we are falling prey to corporate gadget-mongering as much as anything. My guess – and I may well be proven wrong of course – is that much of the past 10 years of frenzy over social media will subside in time. We will come to select what truly brings quality to life, as against what merely proved to be an empty promise of the same.

    P.S. I got the tangerines!

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    1. Deborah Drucker Post author

      Thanks Hariod. I like your phrase that technology is a useful servant but terrible master and that people use social media to project an identity. Yes like avatars or alter egos, an alternate identity. This is great material for a dystopian story about avatars and speaking in text speak or twitter speak while being hypnotized by our devices. People will forget how to talk in complete sentences. I hope you are right about the frenzy subsiding.

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  2. annanolan2014

    What an insightful article, Deborah. You are absolutely right: online activities are great fun, and quite addictive too, but are no substitute for face-to-face interactions. This is why I am desperately trying to keep my involvement with social media within reasonable limits and to continue to give priority to my relationships with family and friends. Not easy, and I’m sure I get it wrong from time to time, but I AM trying.

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  3. markbialczak

    I prefer talking, Deborah, but alas, it takes two for an actual phone conversation, and we yappers are a dwindling breed.

    And as the more recent years have passed and I’ve updated my life to the iPhone generation, I’ve adapted and become more aware and accepting of how the quicker text can be a convenient form of communication between friends and family.

    Thanks for this thinking post.

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    1. Deborah Drucker Post author

      Thanks Mark. Text is convenient but we lose so much in communicating this way. What are we so busy with and why do some people need to keep up a line of chatter about nothing?

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      1. Deborah Drucker Post author

        I hear you too. I have to make dates with my daughter and my son as well to really talk. This is probably a thing between kids and parents though. I was thinking more about people in general who I see constantly checking their phones and texting. It is a crazy habit.

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    1. Deborah Drucker Post author

      Yes I haven’t tweeted either. Well maybe once. I did go on Twitter looking for jobs by the way. I had heard that companies will post on Twitter thinking they are attracting hipper candidates. My county library is on Twitter and Idealist is too. You might take a look. But I am like you I don’t desire to start tweeting regularly. And I did not find any jobs through Twitter but not saying no one else would not.

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  4. Audrey Meltzer

    Thanks, Deborah, for another fine blog. So here’s a personal pet peeve: people who talk loudly on their cell phones in public. I tend to view part of that as another aspect of dwindling ”real’ exchanges: a seeming lack of caring or mindfulness over being heard and, paradoxically, a form of invasion of privacy for those who don’t want to be exposed to having to listen. Perhaps this is a bit off the subject, yet I do wonder if it also couldn’t be perceived as an indication or by-product of overuse or misuse of some rather wonderful technology.

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    1. Deborah Drucker Post author

      I have the same reaction as you Audrey. I noticed that first when cell phones started. Especially people talking with small headsets. It used to scare me because I thought they were talking out loud to themselves. It is the same idea as texting constantly. What is so important that someone must be talking all the time and in public. It is an intrusion just like a loud conversation between 2 live people would be.

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  6. Sandi

    I have found social media more beneficial than not, Deborah: it has facilitated the renewal of several old friendships, and it has been wonderful as a way to interact with family. But, I agree that there can be a falseness about it: there are local people with whom I am friendlier on Facebook than in “real life” — something isn’t right there.

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    1. Deborah Drucker Post author

      It is true that I do hear a bit more about one friend that I had lost touch with. At least I get updates with a few things. I get to see photos of other family members and my husbands extended family. Since I started blogging I do not go on Facebook as often. I have noticed other people use it a lot to post photos of what they are doing during the week.

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