(Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1IR85OT)
Ever sat on the train, in a restaurant, on the bus, at a family gathering, at a wedding/funeral, (the list could go on) and notice something similar? Everybody is on their mobile phone, and not talking! Only swiping and reading!
For someone like me (a baby boomer!), the whole thing is very disturbing. We were the generation of bucking the system, being radical, chilling out and experimenting, now not a single person can survive for 10 minutes without checking their social media. Do people still talk to each other? I’m not sure outside my circle of family and friends.
Something has been unearthed and it’s not just my neighbourhood, it’s totally international. A new drug is in town and it’s called ‘connectivity’.
Right now as we speak there will be someone trying to contact me, you and everyone on our social media. Whether it is something important or frivolous for some reason people just cannot stop themselves, it is truly addictive.
In the beginning
To be honest with you, I did set up a Facebook page at the same time as others and thought too that it was a great idea to keep in touch with friends and share ideas and things we have seen. But soon I found that the ‘friends’ I had were either not willing to post anything much or never respond or reply to my comments or posts. So I stopped. And still to this day I don’t post much on any social media (a-hem….except of course my blog!!!).
So why did people continue with social media?
I’m talking now about others not myself. I would say that for me I was brought up in the world of talking, getting together with friends and spouting forth our opinions on this that and the other. But today there are so many ways to talk that actually opening your mouth and making a sound is only one of many. In fact social media allows some new privileges that other old socialising never did.
What are the privileges?
In the ‘old days’, you had to wait until you had the opportunity to speak, e.g. someone took a breath, you were invited to say something, you were in the right place at the right time. All these criteria took time and energy to find and sadly some never found it easily or others it was only sporadic, then the lucky ones had it in their friends and family and it never left.
But this generation don’t have to worry about time and place. Whenever they feel the urge they can say something. Whenever they see something they can make a comment and share it with every person on the planet. Whenever they experience something they can share it with everyone. And no one needs to see your face! But are they really being heard? Who knows who is listening?
So is this really communicating? If you can’t see or hear the person in front of you.
Well the answer is of course – yes. Communication comes in all forms. But there are some aspects to this kind of communication that do irk me. One being that there is never usually any evidence of a ‘repartee’ going on. What happened to all those wonderfully intense conversations that went in all directions, were provocative, interesting and urgent? That split second feeling that the conversation was on the edge?
Some people will say that this urgency is still just as present in social media as it was back in the 70s, you just have to have the right connections. Everyone is ready anytime to jump in and make a comment, it’s just that they may not be in the same room, town or continent as you!
That’s quite amazing.
So how come this has become so addictive? The face to face or group repartee before was never considered addictive, why is this suddenly so addictive you can’t stop?
The addiction dilemma
It’s addictive because it is so immediate and exciting, and you can be a part of any conversation anywhere, any time. See what others are saying about what you just said, immediately. Plus you can pull out anywhere any time without anyone knowing who you were (if you want).
That’s quite something. So what is it that people are truly getting addicted to? The excitement? The attention? Or simply the fact that it has solved one of the world worst human problems – loneliness. You will never ever be alone so long as you have connectivity, and it only costs maybe $10 a month or may even be free in certain places.
This is my opinion. Yes social media is amazing, but I can only go by my own experience with my social media, and I have to say I found that 90% of the stuff that was posted on Facebook was all about the ‘me’, ‘look at me’, and the comments were 90% platitudes and nonsensical garbage.
But let’s not forget the power mediums like twitter have been used for that have changed the world, e.g. the Iran uprising, the Arab spring, the footage of corruption in action or devastating needs in the world after disasters….just to name a few. So it can’t be written off as all inane.
I would say social media itself is not boring, social media is only a reflection of the world out there, and today there are just as many people seeking others through loneliness, engaging followers for business or reporting on the world as there have ever been, it’s just now much more immediate.
Whether we like it or not it is here to stay for quite some time and will for sure soon be so integrated into our every day lives that the new generation coming through won’t even bat an eyelid.
But being addicted to anything is never good….what will happen in the future? I don’t know.
What do you think?