Let me introduce you to Evelyn, Eve for short, I met her at a party we both were invited to by mutual friends. Evelyn and I connected over our love for music and we talked on the concerts and music festivals we’ve been to, artist we have seen, want to see, who’s show was worth it, and who let us down. Since that party Evelyn graduated college and finally got the job she has always wanted as a grade school teacher, she loves kids. Evelyn then got engaged a little after that to her high school sweetheart, the ring was beautiful, if I may add. Her wedding was a very extravagant party, very glam and her dress was amazing. Her and her now husband bought their first house and are hoping to start a family. I know
her and her husband can’t come to terms on what they should name their future son or daughter, I wish them the best. You might be surprised to know that Evelyn and I have not spoken since that day at the party about 4 years ago. She is my friend on Facebook, I liked her glamorous wedding pictures but I was not invited. I highly doubt all her 480 friends on Facebook were invited and I’m not offended she wouldn’t be invited to my wedding either, Evelyn is not my friend. We connected at a party and instead of exchanging phone numbers and planning to go to a concert together, like we should have, we added each other on social media and never had a face-to-face conversation again. Yet, I know things about her that would be normal to know about a close friend. I could communicate to Evelyn because I’ve followed her life with social media and I could comment on her post and like her pictures but I don’t have a real connection with Evelyn. The way we are communicating is changing we are becoming more social than ever and interactive but the style has changed (keller) . We don’t form the deep relationship and we get a false connection to our social media friends, when we should be forming or maintaining real connections with people in our lives. You would like someones pictures on social media and know where they went on vacation, how their children look, when they had a great day or bad one but the idea of sending them a formal wedding invitations is odd, because we are not real friends. I know things about Evelyn that she has chosen to let people know but I as well has her hundreds of friends don’t know her like we would have if we had developed an interpersonal relationship We cannot get to know the real person that makes lasting relationships without real face-to-face conversations.
Although I have hundreds of friends on social media if I needed a ride because my car was in the shop I can count on one hand the friends I know without a doubt would be there. We don’t go out of the way anymore to see what someone is doing on the weekend because you could just log on Instagram and see where they went. Maybe then you would “like” the picture or post the picture looks great but why not pick up the phone and call to ask how the trip was? Most of us don’t feel there is a need to have to do that, you already commented on the picture and it’s about the same if not just easier, after all you are more than likely not close to that social media friend or even have their number. Allison Graham in “How social media is making us unsocial” TEDx Talk brings up a poll that in 2001 the average American had 10 close friends and in 2014 the number went down to 2 close friends. The friends that we share vacation photos with could be hundreds because it’s easy to show how much fun you were having but deep personal relationship are not built on likes or comments. They are people you share personal, intimate, conversations with. We all need people to talk to once in while and not having people that would be there through a rough situation could be very tough. The article Social Media and Interpersonal Relationships States “Our interactions on social media tend to be weak ties—that is, we don’t feel as personally connected to the people at the other end of our communication as we do when we’re face-to-face. So while we’re communicating more, we may not necessarily be building relationships as strongly,” Paul Booth PhD. While social media is form of connecting and keeping up with people around us and what is going on in their lives at the moment, you won’t get the real connection as you would if you were having a face-to-face conversation.
In this time and age more than half of Americans are on a social media platform. In 2005 only 5% of Americans has at least one social media account, in 2016 it had risen to 69% with Facebook being the most popular site (Social media Fact Sheet,2016). Social media can help us share monumental events in life with friends and family but it can’t show us the expression on the face of the person seeing it, we also can’t hear the excit
ement of someone reading a meaningful post. For example, you might post about a hilarious situations that happened at work and you might get some “LOL” or “LMAO” but it’s not going to beat real laughter. When we engage in face-to-face communication, social information is conveyed by vocal and visual cues in the context of the situation. Non-verbal communication is an important part of communicating and it includes facial expressions, eye contact, tone of voice as well as posture, space between individuals, etc. (Knapp &Hall,2010).We are connecting instead of conversing, technology might work to gather bits of information or to say your are thinking about someone but not to learn and really understand each other (Sherry Turkle).We could start small to try and connect with strangers or with the friends we already have. Instead next time you are sitting next to a person at the doctors office and you reach for your phone start a casual conversation with the person next to you. This might make us uneasy to not reach for our phone while waiting for your appointment. Technology has made us uncomfortable with being alone, as soon we are alone we start to reach for the phone (Sherry Turkle). Social media has given a false sense of connections, although you are alone sitting at the doctors office you don’t feel alone if you are posting a selfie on your Snapchat about being at the doctors office or going through you Twitter. Allison Graham mentions how we should “unplug” at least for one hour a day. Don’t check your phone at all no text, calls, social media. In family homes have spaces that phones are not allowed and force communication, like the dinner table.
A USC Annenberg School study found that the percentage of people reporting less face-to-face time with family in their homes rose from 8%in 2000 to 34% in 2011. 32% reported using social media or texting during meals (47% of 18-34 year olds) instead of talking with family and friends.(ProCon). The mere presence of a phone could cause an interference in the communication as showed in an experiment where two groups of people were put in a room to talk one group had a phone on the table and the other had no phone. The group with the phone on the table were not allowed to pick the phone up or do anything with it. It was simply just left in the center of the table. The people with the phone on the table reported less meaningful conversations. These results demonstrate that the presence of mobile phones can interfere with human relationships, an effect that is most clear when individuals are discussing personally meaningful topics.(Andrew K. Przybylski, Netta Weinstein). You could put the phone in your pocket or purse but it’s still in the back of your head that the phone is there and you need to check it. You could be listening to the person speaking to you but you are not completely focused. So not only should we not use the phone for the “unplug” time or at the dinner table but don’t have it all, let’s put it away.
Social media has in some ways helped stay connected. In emergency situations when the phone services are down we could connect through social media or it’s helped to travel important news. With all the important political changes happening and protest, social media has helped to give out information and gather support. Jenna Wortham the author of I had a Nice Time With You Tonight. On The App. Has been able to stay connected to her long distance boyfriend thanks to an app that allows them to Video chat, she states “I’ve had some of the most emotionally intimate and honest conversations with friends and romantic partners on mobile devices. And while virtual chats and hugs will never be the same as their real-world counterparts, they come awfully close in pinch”. Social media is without a doubt a great invention, to be able to organize a protest on Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram and have thousands show up and show support is incredible. The inventions of an app like Skype that could help you stay connected with relatives or friends that could be on the other side of the world is a history changing invention. However, sometimes we are using social media as a way to stay connected with family and friends that live in the same city as us. That you could just call and meet up to talk about the positive things, the bad, and stressful problems that your social media friends rather not hear about. In face-to-face conversations you can see a person’s emotions and that helps us form real connections. It helps us develop better communication skills and we could learn how to argue with someone, listen, form a response and not just follow people you agree with and “unfriend” those you don’t. Having face-to-face conversations helps you grow as person learning someone else’s views. In social media you are searching topics and following trends you are interested in and sometimes having a conversation with someone could teach you something you never even considered. We have become so reliable on social media and this could open the door to internet addiction. “With the release of the fifth edition of the DSM, Internet addiction now will be listed as a mental illness marked by emotional shutdown, lack of concentration, and withdrawal symptoms, so we may be closer to diagnosing and understanding socially detrimental human-technology relationships”(Keller). Social media can’t provide the emotional support you get from a friend and loved one. While I do see the importance of social media in this era, to much of anything turns bad. I’m not saying get rid of social media or quit forever but use with some discipline.
We now even sometimes try to avoid talking to people. I know I’ve been guilty of that I could think of a specific moment that now I feel ashamed of. I was at work listening to my music and from the corner of my eye I saw my coworker walking up to my desk. I know she was going to want to talk to me and I thought, if I keep looking at the computer screen she might keep walking, she didn’t. My co-worker stopped and knocked on my desk and waved her hand to get my attention, I slowly took my earbuds out and attempted to look surprised to have her on the side of my desk. She then asked if I would like to walk with her during breaks because she’s trying to lose some weight as the doctor advised. I smiled and said sure, while thinking that she could have just sent me an email. What I would not have gotten in an email is her look of sadness and disappointment telling me her doctor ordered her to lose some weight and the feeling of guilt I felt if I were to say no to her request. I might have said no in an email and never have known she gives great advice, and always ready to listen or how her husband is practical joker and always playing hilarious pranks on her. We don’t think about what we are going to say, we just talk. Sometimes it comes out great and sometimes you accidentally release a swear word but that’s the great thing about a conversation. When you get comfortable with someone you could just talk about anything but in social media you can re-read, edit, and delete, we aren’t being are true selves and could reply to a post with a thought out planned response. In a face-to-face encounter you might stumble on your words or laugh uncontrollably when you try to explain a joke. These small details makes us memorable and connect with people that could be in our lives forever. We need to form real connections off the screen, it’s beneficial to our happiness “Friends also play a significant role in promoting your overall health. Adults with strong social support have a reduced risk of many significant health problems, including depression, high blood pressure and an unhealthy body mass index (BMI)”(MayoClinic,2016). As I stated before the solution could start small for example make friends at work, they don’t just have to be coworkers. It’s just as a important to maintain friendship as it is to make new ones, don’t send a happy birthday comment onFacebook to your long time friend and consider it done. Challenge yourself, instead call them and take them out to dinner or drinks. Next time your are out look up and take a look at the people you’re with if you see them on the phone consider it your problem and try to start a conversation and get everyone engaged. When you come home and see your spouse, mother, father, sister or who ever ask them how their day went, let’s “unplug” as Allison Graham put it. Next time you are having a bad day a rant on Facebook might get you some supportive comments but having your friend in front of you to listen and share your frustration might make you feel much better.
Dr. Cal Newport “Quit Social Media” published on Sep 19, 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watchv=3E7hkPZ-HTk,
Social Media Fact Sheet” Pew Research Center 12, January2017 http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheet/social-media
Jenna Wortham “Had a Nice Time with you Tonight. On the app.” They Say, I say: With Readings Writings 3rd Edition; W.W. Norton & Company Inc,.2014; New York Times, 2001.
Sherry Turkle”Conneced but alone” TED February 2012, https://www.ted.com/talks/sherry_turkle_alone_together#t-6593,
Andrew K. Przybylski and Netta Weinstein “Can you connect with me now? How the presence of mobile communications technology influences face-to-face conversation quality” Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 19 July 2012 DOI: 10.1177/0265407512453827,
ProCon.org. “Social Networking ProCon.org.” ProCon.org. 28 Mar. 2017, 10:13 a.m., socialnetworking.procon.org/
Maura Keller “Social Media and Interpersonal Communication” Social Work Today Vol. 13 No. 3 P. 10 http://www.socialworktoday.com/archive/051313p10.shtml