This post is an original essay I wrote for one of my college courses in 2014.
It’s almost impossible to think of a life without the Internet. For most children born in the 80’s or 90’s, using the Internet for everyday life is completely normal. That generation has grown up with the Internet and social networking. It is amazing how one can connect with others all over the globe just by simply logging into a computer or device. However, there are still issues at hand with social networking. Even though social networking can connect people to family and friends, society should not become obsessed with social networking because it inhibits real life interaction by limiting actual social encounters, creating social phobias in people and making it easy to hide behind a screen.
Nothing compares to real-life actual connecting to others; going out to coffee or grabbing a bite to eat with a friend. With social networking there isn’t that same opportunity. The problem is it’s too easy to sit and be behind a screen in pajamas than it is to put in the effort to get dressed and out the door. The Internet and the invention of social media have caused people to become lazy. As Stephen Marche stated in the essay, Is Facebook Making Us Lonely? people have broader connections, but they are shallower. One cannot possibly be as connected to another individual merely through social media interaction. A relationship takes far more to thrive and to sustain its depth and relevancy. In order for a relationship to grow, there are levels of connecting that are needed and you simply cannot meet those levels in a virtual world alone.
Furthermore, it has rendered people inadequate to function in some social settings. It is almost as if some people cannot make eye contact anymore for some strange reason. When out in public it is interesting to notice just how many people are on their phone or some other device even when with someone. The art of communication has been lost in some respect due to the overuse of social networking and social media. Actual words are replaced with abbreviations and acronyms that are made up by teenagers. Emoticons substitute words and a simple non-response can say so much without any words at all. Conversations tend to be about what accolades one has acquired or how smart one’s child is forcing us to compare ourselves and our children to others.
In Josh Rose’s essay, How Social Media Is Having a Positive Impact on Our Culture, it states, “the Internet doesn’t steal our humanity, it reflects it.” And while it can be agreeable it is also false in the sense that people on the Internet are as genuine and real as they want to portray to be. It is almost impossible to read the tone in which one may say something when they are merely writing it. In real life it is easier to assess if someone is in need or hurting whereas on the Internet one can keep the focus away from the less desirable aspects of ones life. Relationships, families, marriages can all fail and no one would know because of the lack of focus on the present and realness of someone’s life. Also, bullying takes place online via social media and social networking is used to inflict jealousy upon others. If it were real life it is highly doubtful that a majority of the bullies online would behave in such a manner.
One way that society can start to bring this issue around is by regaining focus on what a relationship is truly about. All humans are wired to connect: it’s that connection and that relationship that is built off of that connection that creates long lasting bonds. In order for people to start to connect and bond with others again it is going to take a conscious effort to choose now and put the phone or device down. Once one can get used to the idea of not having a social networking habit, then relationships and real life interactions will resume. It’s important that everyone starts to realize where this is going before it is too late and there are generations and generations of people who have lost the ability to interact in real life. For most situations, it will start with an adult of the house making a choice to put the phones and devices down and actually focus on the relationships right there and then. Slowly, but surely, others will follow suit and make the changes necessary to foster relationships with loved ones.
One thing that will not work for this situation is ignoring it. Society needs to take a serious look at what a social media addiction can do as a whole. People need to evaluate the amount of time spent on the various social networking sites and weigh the pros and cons. By choosing to be in the moment and focusing on the relationships at hand, things will start to take shape into what was once known as networking, the old fashioned way. The positive impact of choosing to get out of the house and meet face to face with people will be immeasurable. Society will start to regain some of its normalcy again. Being connected to those across the miles is wonderful, however, people cannot neglect to grow those relationships that are nearby as well. In conclusion, the future is in the hands of this generation. What comes of all the social media and social networking sites truly is bearing down on the decisions made now. Will society focus on the present situations around itself, or will it choose to ignore it and hope for the best?
Marche, Stephen. Is Facebook Making Us Lonely? The Atlantic, May 2012. Print.
Rose, Josh. How Social Media Is Having a Positive Impact on Our Culture. Mashable.com, 2011. Web.