Social Media Dependency: We Need an Intervention


 

Let’s make up a scenario: You meet a new friend at a party over the weekend. You get along, share a few laughs and interests, and decide to exchange numbers and information to keep in touch in the future. Awesome! So now what’s your next step? Do you call the person or meet up with them the next day? Or better yet, do you show up at their front door in order to get in contact with them? That was okay in 1930 but now it’s just creepy. More than likely (and I’m sure many can agree) you are sending the classic text, “what’s your last name, lol?”  Yeah, okay, you can act all non-chalant but we both know where this is heading.   Soon you’re adding them on Facebook followed by a few texting conversations. Shortly after these conversations that involve no emotion but rather words typed out into sentences on a glass screen, you might stalk them via other forms of social media like Twitter, Tumblr, and who could forget Instagram.   Eventually the first official day comes that you two hang out face-to-face, and you’re sitting there knowing you can probably tell this friend their whole life story along with what color shirt they wore to their Aunt Teri’s 25th wedding anniversary in Minnesota last summer from stalking their websites.  And that is something I do not like.

The use of internet and the media in our current society deprives us its uses of face-to-face communication. When the written language came out thousands of years ago, society experienced a new way of living. Ancient philosophers believed this new era of written language to be demeaning to oral communication, stating that it would deprive us of genuine conversation resulting in people to become less intelligent.

A parallel argument exists today yet on a much greater scale.

The internet and world-wide-web possesses many different forms of entertainment, leisure and activities through the use of instant messaging, e-mailing, Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, and Tumblr.  Instagram provides the newest and trendiest way to stalk every single person we know through pictures! “I’m going to Instagram my Starbucks latte next to my philosophy textbook and use a vintage filter with the caption ‘Tuesday night relaxation, finally!’ People will totally think I’m smart and complex even though I hate philosophy… oh my gosh that cute guy from my class liked it! Score!”

It truly shapes our way of interacting with one another as well as what we believe is true and logical. It allows us to literally have everything we need at our fingertips to view on a screen and as a result, we’re slowly but surely losing that primitive lifestyle of social interaction that once was so innocent and genuine.

I know what you’re thinking, not everybody is electronically dependent and uses computers and cell phones to go about their lives. That may be true, but take a look at these statistics. According to http://www.internetworldstatistics.com, Asia is the leading region of internet users. With a total population of roughly 1-trillion, about 111-million are internet users and use technology in their everyday lives. Now, let’s view this on a wider scale. With the world population of around 7-billion, 4-billion use the internet and are technologically-savvy. That may not seem too drastic to you, but the numbers only continue to rise as our technology advances, and that is simply outrageous.

The first forms of entertainment and media began with books, followed by the radio, telephone, recorded music, and the stereo. Although they provided us with new forms of entertainment, they did not change our social interactions with one another. Perhaps it provided new topics to cover in conversation due to the new distribution of information among a large audience, but it didn’t deprive us of that genuine face-to-face interaction. Humans still communicated orally and personally, which in my opinion, was and still is the most genuine form of communication and most beneficial to everyone in the end.

With access to the internet, you basically have everything at your fingertips. Because of this our society gets involved in media stories, celebrity gossip, and other issues that may not be as important to our everyday lives as it seems to be at the time. With texting, emailing, social networking, blogging, and mobile devices providing us with all of this on the go, we have become an addicted society that needs a smart phone and computer within reach in order to be content.

Sam, a senior in high school discusses the use of technology and smart phones amongst her friends as a casual routine that occurs every day.

“My friends are always talking about who they’re texting and their latest Facebook activity, who commented them, or  who “liked” a picture of theirs.  Sometimes I find myself sitting in a room with three of my friends and it’s completely silent. Nobody is speaking, and if you look around, we are all either on our phones or laptop- communicating with others via silent instant-messaging without speaking to each other in the same room,” she said.

Sam continues as she sighs with a smirk on her face.

“Now that I think about it, it’s as if being face-to-face with someone isn’t enough and it’s more entertaining to do it hidden behind a phone or computer screen. I am completely guilty of doing this, and you know what? It’s sort of sickening.”

Sam is a perfect example of why I believe we are getting way too comfortable, and in ways addicted to both the idea of the media age as well as its uses for us in our everyday life.

Admitted that although it’s taken advantage of, it definitely does bring the population together when looked at on a larger scale. It does help us positively when used to communicate through written words, images, and pictures so any information that needs to get distributed quickly can be done right away.

On the downside the sad truth is, we seem to use it more at our leisure.  We end up getting wrapped up in it- becoming more focused on the scandalous lives of celebrities, constantly checking how many “likes” our newest Instagram picture got, what pictures our friends or current crush were “tagged” in on Facebook, and the most up-to-date pictures of Snooki’s baby. Please thoroughly explain to me how any of this affects your life at the end of the day before you go to sleep? I promise you, you can’t.

We should all learn to appreciate life outside of technology. Some examples include exercising, dancing, taking a walk alone or with friends to get some fresh air, attending a concert at a live music venue, cooking, or simply sharing stories and laughs with a friend or family member while leaving all technology in a separate room, allowing you to avoid distractions and more genuinely enjoy each other’s company. I ask you all to try one of these activities as a self-test, and notice the differences of how you’ve interpreted your situation and surroundings without the bother of technology. New advances in the media age are beginning to rob our society of true and genuine communication. Is it convenient? Absolutely, however face-to-face communication will always be the healthiest way to interact with one another rather than through instant messaging, emailing, and texting. Wake up, people, and notice how beautiful the world is when viewed from outside your bedroom window with a laptop on your desk and a smart phone by your side.

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