Do social media really make us less social?

By Amirah El-Mesawi

In the last few years, many people have complained that communication has been degraded by laptop screens and mobile phones. This technology keeps us holed up in our dark rooms chatting away with strangers that we will never meet. Anyone is able to project himself as he wants to be seen, he gets to edit, he gets to delete, and basically be whatever it is he wants to be.

According to some studies, social media is a place of anxiety and social disconnection for many users, and in some cases, is pushing us away from deep human connection.

Some have started calling it the lonely generation, where we seem to have more friends but less intimacy. It deprives us of normal face to face connection which is essential to nurture our emotional needs.

However, what I think the real problem with social media today is that people may have become a little too addicted to it. We have our faces buried in it from the time the sun rises until we retire to bed. It even disrupts the little face to face contact we seem to be having. Have you ever hung out with a group of friends, but somehow the phones all come out and the conversation dies out?

But is social media really all that bad?

I bet accusations like this have been made every time a new technology comes out. It’s easy to play the blame game but maybe it is us who have erred?

Social Media wasn’t created with the intent to replace our daily interaction, it was merely supposed to be adopted as a means to keep stay in touch with our weak ties –that is to stay updated with old friends who travelled away, family members overseas, and to some extent, to create foreign ties that may prove useful in the course of our life.

The problem is that we seem to be searching for intimacy on social media, and we will most likely discover emptiness, but if we begin using it as a tool to search for opportunity we will most likely hit a jackpot!

Social media has, in many ways, made us more social, it has made it a lot easier to relate to one another. Sometimes, we do not get to see the person that we want to socialise with so the only thing that helps us over-come that is social media. Softwares like Skype and Face-time even allows us to see each other.

With a click of a button, not only does it let us know what restaurants your friends have been to for dinner or show us pictures that we would not normally see in person, but with just a few things it helps us grow a better social understanding of each other. So, I personally believe that it does NOT make us less social and if anything it makes us more connected with our friends. Never before have we been able to keep up with so many people, but it should not stop us from going out and seeing people. We must take it upon ourselves not to allow it to make us anti social. We could very much as well blame the telephone in that case. To blame technology for human behaviour is ludicrous.

Furthermore, social media can help people break out of their shell. They may ease into friendships using their screens as shields, but when they’re finally comfortable enough with their cyber buddy, they may finally be ready to take it a step further and actually begin to have face to face conversations.

So instead of protesting for the return to the dark ages of pre-smart phone and social networking life, maybe we should try to create sacred places at home or work where we leave the devices out.

In a nutshell, what I’m trying to say is that; it is what we make of it.***

Photo of Chalk & Ward

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