There are some who believe that social media is the root of all evil, or at the very least it is making us dumber. Whether you love to tweet, post, and blog or dislike social media altogether, it is undeniable that it has taken the world by storm. Rapid social changes are occurring right before our eyes. Though it has made our lives easier in many ways, opponents of this technology are quick to point out its flaws.
One issue is the kind of text we are reading and writing now. Many of us probably communicate via text as much as spoken word on a day-to-day basis. Between Facebook, twitter, blogging, and text messages, most of us have multiple conversations that are typed out on a keyboard. What this is troubling to those who value the written word is the developing slang and overall disregard for grammar and punctuation. Likewise, it’s become common to gloss over any sizeable amount of text and look for the bolded statements that will give us information quickly. We want lean, witty one-liners instead of buckling down and reading an article or book.
Not only are our conversations increasingly in the form of typed fragments, but we are also spending more and more time logged into social media sites. In the past, would those hours have been spent in solitude? Or perhaps people would have used that extra time to call their old friends instead of passively looking through their new picture album on Facebook. Maybe they would use that time to meet up with their close buddies at a coffee shop or a park to throw a ball around. Though it’s hard to say how we would actually be spending our time without social media, it’s clear that it has taken the place of a variety of activities.
Even when we’re not actively sending emails and updating statuses, we are still connected to the digital world. How often do you even turn your phone off while you sleep? We live in a time where we are increasingly “plugged in” to our web of social connections. By leaving our iPhones on our nightstands, we are allowing ourselves to become even more consumed by this technology. In terms of accessibility, we are more connected than ever before. At any point in the day, we expected to be able to connect with any of our friends, family members, or co-workers immediately.
Our dependence on social media seems to have created a new kind of anxious disorder. Have you ever been to a party and noticed half of the attendees are on their phones? It’s been argued, and rightfully so, that our eyes no longer know what to do when they’re not directed towards screen. Even when we are amongst those whom we would consider to be friends, we feel our eyeballs itching to make contact.
Are we better off than before the digital world consumed us?
John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2012
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We’re no better off. The tools have simply changed. Mobile is enabling this new “always on” world. We’re glued to our smartphones. They’re an appendage. Yes, it’s evil. But we have created a love/hate relationship.
Great post John. I do believe we’re better off with social media. Far better off, but it must be used responsibly like anything else. Adults must not be obsessed with it and parents must teach their children how to use it responsibly. I’m not saying this lightly as I know how invasive and addicting it can be. I love it and have had to set personal limits in order to keep focused on what is important to me. My family and my business has to come first. But, let’s consider the world without the real-time knowledge, communication and connections we’ve gained. Think back to when TV first came out. I wasn’t around, but I’d bet there were plenty of people saying it’s corrupting our minds, it wastes time where we should be doing other things, etc… Yes, too much TV is not good, just as too much of anything is not good. That said, social media is here to stay, but it will evolve and our use and understanding of how it fits in our life will evolve as well.
Yes, this was written “tongue in cheek” but is based on some truth. I believe the new social tools provide an immediacy and an intimacy that did not exist prior to their use. Are they a substitute for F2F relations? No, but neither was letter writing in the 1700s. Can they be vale to hide behind? You bet. The new social tools rock if used wisely.