In My Opinion
At What Point Does Social Media Make You Anti-Social…or Worse?
Twitter parties, Facebook communities, Google+ hangouts, Pinterest boards, and online chatrooms or forums – it sounds like social media is uniting millions of people, lost friends, and old classmates. Yet in all the vast technological communication, are we really that connected or are we just being isolated even more than before?
Maybe it is the endless parade of status updates, check-ins, picture-perfect pins and quirky tweets . Or maybe it is the unhealthy fascination we all have with comparing ourselves to others (and feeling like the grass is always greener on the other side). Maybe it is because the average person receives over 400 text messages a month and teens spend on average 11 hours a day on screen time, with over 3700 texts in a month.
As “social” as all these media outlets would have you believe, the truth is that it creates a sense of isolation, conformity, and an unrealistic expectation to live perfect lives in many of us. Sure, it is easier to just say that we are happy all the time, our kids are perfect, our marriages never end, our jobs are never terminated, our meals are all delicious and we have perfect shoes, but the reality is much different. Everyone fights with their spouse, yells at their kids, needs to fold the laundry, burns dinner and has dirty dishes. We aren’t perfect – yet we try so hard to maintain that perception to our friends, old acquaintances, and people we barely know but feel the need to stay connected to.
In the vast array of “social media” you can be connected to thousands – even hundreds of thousands of people, but what does that really matter if you miss the connections to those closest to you?
What Makes Us Anti-Social?
When we value the media more than the real life interaction of networking with other people, we lose a sense of true community. How many times have you seen (or been a part of) a group of teens sitting around a lunch table texting, people taking pictures just to share on Facebook or Pinterest, or friends staring at their smartphones longer than at each other? And when that need to plug in, play games, or create buzz becomes greater than the need for each other, social disorders or mental illnesses can develop. The lure of the internet and the “social” networking included can be down-right addicting. Don’t believe me? The new version of the DSM (the manual issued by the American Psychiatric Association) is due out next year and will include for the first time “Internet Addiction Disorder”. There are horror stories around the world of parents neglecting children, teens killing their parents, and people displaying severe withdrawals when they are taken away from the internet. Clearly, this is becoming an issue for many people.
So where do we go with this information? We turn off the computer, the tablet, the smartphone, etc.
And we set limits for how much, not only our kids are exposed to this social interaction, but ourselves as well. I’m not saying it will be easy – as a small business owner who dives into social media every day, I know this will be challenging, to say the least. But the right way isn’t always the easy way.
What do you think? Can social media make us anti-social or is it just the best way to connect with long-lost and new-found friends?