How the social media is bringing us closer to people yet making us far from them?
Digital communications and social media. Facebook. Emails. Short messages. Whatsapp and other chat apps. We have a wide variety of communication channels these days to stay in touch with our friends.
Stay in touch. That’s a grey phrase.
Are we really close to our friends with all these tools? Are we always there for our friends, when they need us, to sit with them and share their joys and sorrows, give them a shoulder to cry on?
HeadsUp: You might find this article as anti-social media or against modern technology. I assure you I strongly believe that all this modern communication channels are enriching our lives and bringing us closer to people. However, some concerns still prevail and I intend to address them. I am a strong practitioner of social media (I am a marketer and it is a major part of my job and life alike) and in no way condemn the technology.
A few years ago, that is when I was a child and we did not have much of this modern technology or smart phones, a normal day was more like this.
Getting up early, with the sun shining through our windows, wishing our parents a good morning and may be pray to God for a while. Snatching the sports or cartoons page from the newspaper in dad’s hand and laughing at those strips. With mom yelling that we are getting late for school, or wherever we had to go, we used to run shower and dress up hastily to catch the bus.
Now the first thing we do after we wake up in the morning is check our phone. (I admit I do that too) And we wake up with the alarm in the phone. We check news, friend’s social media status and tweets on our smart devices. All this while eating. We just nod at the breakfast table and again get immersed in our virtual world. I do not know how many of us still receive printed newspapers at home. I sure do not.
Are we focused or distracted
Distraction. A common illness for many modern-age youngsters according to several studies. Even with so much advanced technology, digital devices, and the world at our fingertips, we are more easily distracted now than in previous years. Why? Our attention span is being deteriorated. Every other minute, we pull out our phones to check if a text had arrived or someone had tweeted. We do that when we are travelling in bus. We do that when we are waiting for food at a restaurant. We do that when we are walking on a cold evening along the street.
We are filling these gaps, gaps of boredom, solitude, loneliness, with this type of behaviour. End result — we are missing out on moments- moments to reflect, moments to think, moments to let our brain go on a walk.
Sitting next to an old man and sharing his experiences, talking to a beautiful girl and trying to flirt with her, or laughing at the faces a 5 year old might be putting up — these are some things that we used to do back then- when digital world was separate from real world.
When we get onto the bus or tram now, we do not notice other people. But if we do, I am sure we would see that everyone is looking into the screens in their hands.
When we talked, we used to listen. Not hear. Listen. Take in each word. Notice each expression. Understand each emotion. In short, we were connected. Even now, we are connected. But differently. How often do we really talk to someone? Or even better question: How often do we really Listen? Taking in their words is not listening. How often do we empathize with them? Think by putting ourselves in their shoes? Understand their emotions.
We still do that, may be, at least some of us do. But not totally. We chat. Online. Apps. Messengers. At a time, we chat with 2, 5, 10. I am sure even now there are at least 2 chat windows open on your device as well as mine.
A Google Ventures partner and former co-founder of Excite.com quotes sociologist Dr. Sherry Turkle, to the effect that: “We are lonely but fearful of intimacy. Digital connections offer the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship. We expect more from technology and less from each other.”
This is one nice video from the Big Bang Theory which has little to do with this topic yet adds something to this piece.
All this is very good too
We stay connected with our loved ones (parents, siblings or life partner) all the day that when we come home in the evening, we miss that enthusiasm of missing them all day. We do not run and hug saying ‘I missed you, honey’. Instead, we pick up the topic which we had left talking about on a chat app or a messenger.
Now, I find it a benefit actually. To stay connected to loved ones however far we are or however busy. But I cannot say I do not miss those moments of meeting them after a long day of wait.
It is our choice
Modern day technology, connectivity, and devices offer us a lot. Both good and bad. Like every other thing in life. What we choose depends on us. It might come as a surprise, or may be not, that the startling figures of people suffering from illnesses, anxiety disorders, mental imbalances arise due to constant connectivity which, on other hand, is saving a lot of lives and making many live better. As with every technology, it is we, finally, who has to decide how we want to use it.
I might come as anti-digital era person. But I assure you, I am not. I have an ultrabook, a tablet and a 5 inch smartphone. I am always connected. I chat a lot. I do everything I criticised above. True. But I also, at least, try to take time for my friends to actually be there for them and support them. I hope you do that too.
Coincidentally, the day after I posted this article, Meghan M. Biro tweeted about this video http://t.co/X20B5oDYDs. It talks about how we are opening our computers to the social media and then, shutting our doors to the world.
Meghan is the CEO of Talent Culture and a contributor to Forbes, Huffington Post. She is one of the top ranked leadership and social business experts on Twitter.
If you like this article, please share it to your loved ones to remind them life is more than social media. Take care. Thank you.