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