Monday, September 9, 2013

Is Social Media Robbing Us of Our Humanity?


A guy on Google Plus raised a question the other day about Facebook and it got me thinking about the whole social media thing. He talked about joining Facebook and then deleting his account. He went back and forth several times. He’d hop on the popular social network merry-go-round and then hop off. The last I heard he decided to stay off for good because he felt it was an addictive and unhealthy habit to have. He had the presence of mind to step out of the box he was in and see the whole picture as this: instead of physically going out into the real world to converse with others, he found himself glued to the computer and interacting with people in the digital realm.

So are virtual friends real friends?

Last week a writer friend of mine mentioned she was going to shut down her Facebook page because she was tired of her books being ignored. When I read her post, I started to cry. I didn’t want her to leave. I considered her my friend, someone I connected with who shared the same sense of humor as me and made me laugh. I responded right away, telling her not to leave and blah, blah, blah. Afterwards, I logged off and talked to Kevin about it. His reaction to me crying over a digital comrade was concern. He personally thinks they’re not true or real friends. The reason why he feels this way is because they can unfriend you without batting an eye, and in his opinion a majority of them are narcissistic and false. He told me people on the internet say things to others that they would never have the balls to say to their face. It’s all bullshit he thinks and this boom in technology is robbing us of our humanity.

Is Kevin right?

After he was done talking to me, I felt worse. I mean, I consider the authors I converse with online my friends. I love them. They’re great. But then Kevin threw a wrench into my digital bubble. He popped it, forcing me to look beyond it.

Here’s what I’ve discovered and how I personally feel about social media:

1.) Not everybody is your buddy, even though you may think so.

I had a wonderful critique partner whom I considered a good friend, and I loved how she wrote. But then one day she bailed on me. The only reason I could think of was when I critiqued one of her chapters I told her she needed to get rid of most of her "thats." I don’t know if she got butt hurt over my suggestion or what. She shouldn’t have, though. I mean, she knew how much I loved her stories and how she told them.

So don’t get too attached to people thinking they’re your buddies. However, there is a chance they can turn into genuine friends, but you just don’t know. It’s a risk; however, it's one I’m willing to take because I’ve already met and connected with some cool people in the literary world who understands what I’m going through as a writer. I just have to keep in mind that one day most of them will vanish without saying a word. It happened to me before, and it’ll happen again.

2.) Technology is robbing us of our humanity.

We as humans are not designed to sit on our butts all day in front of a computer, TV, or video game. Our bodies are supposed to be active and out in the real world enjoying the sun and nature. We’re supposed to interact with other people face to face and form bonds on a personal level.


I’ve noticed some of the teenagers who spend most of their time texting, have a short attention span and can’t hold a conversation. You try to explain something to them, and they have a blank look on their faces. Not all teenagers are like that, but enough to concern me. I personally think those who choose to communicate a majority of their waking hours texting is reprogramming their brains to accept another form of interaction. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:

Kevin told a teenage boy who is constantly on his cell phone texting, to do a task at his place of employment. The kid didn’t understand what Kevin was telling him. Kevin tried to explain it again and still the teen couldn’t comprehend what was being asked of him. That night Kevin told me about it. I advised him the next time he needed to tell this teenager what to do to speak to him like he would if he were texting him–in short sentences. Make it simple. Well, Kevin did what I suggested, and you know what? The kid understood.

WTF?

Our children are losing the social skills needed to thrive not only in this world but as a human being, and it scares me.

3.) I don’t hate social media or the internet.

I personally think social media is a good thing IF you don’t allow it to consume your life. I love to be able to connect with like-minded people, and we can learn from each other. I love to communicate with my fans, my friends in Arizona and family. I love all of it. I also think it’s awesome if I want to find out something I can Google it.

To sum it all up, this new form of communication is great and gives us opportunities we’ve never had before. However, like food and alcohol, if you abuse it, it’ll destroy you physically and mentally. So it’s a balancing act. Be aware of your portions and how much you consume, otherwise you’ll be allowing social media and the internet for that matter, rob you of your humanity. And none of us wants that, right?

 

 

7 comments:

  1. The internet's a great place for finding people who agree with you. The problem is when you start expecting people to give positive feedback always. Someone who isn't 100% supportive is a threat to your community. (Alana's book has a chapter about this; the internet just turns small communities into big communities.)

    True friendships in the real world are formed through real sacrifices from all sides, and an acceptance that people can be supportive without necessarily agreeing with you.

    The internet is seductive, and beneficial and therapeutic in some ways, but true friendship is just as hard to forge online as off...

    But you're absolutely right about the, er, attenti

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  2. Francis, a great point that friendship is just as hard to forge online as off.

    While I don't think of everyone as my buddy, there are certain people that I only know online that I do consider friends - I would do a little bit extra for them, and they've been a support for me. Like any relationship, you have to be more careful at the start.

    For me, the internet and social media are great things. It allows me some contact with other people during the daytime, when it is hard to meet up with people in real life (damn those 9-to-5's!).

    I also like the fact that, as you mentioned, information is at my fingertips - I don't have to go to the library just to find out something small.

    Gotta agree with the short attention span bit, though, I'd love to see some of my English students reading something that's more than 500 words and actually sticking it out - it would help their learning so much!

    Overall, I think it's a great thing, as long as we give people *online* the respect that we would give them in real life.

    Great post, Rebekkah.

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  3. Thanks for the comments. I appreciate it. :) <3

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  4. I agree with most things, especially with number 1 and 3. Possibly the only "buddy" I can actually trust is my family, lol.

    Though social networking. Definitely agree that it has a lot of opportunities. You can talk... for free to people around the world from one area.

    Though it's nice to have a letter instead of a tweet every once in a while (not that I'm giving out my address anytime soon).

    ~Sophia @ Bookwyrming Thoughts

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  5. I think you made really good points and especially about online friends. I think they are the least accountable ones, if if they are, it is not a good thing to rely on them as a friend as it gives you some sort dependency towards them. I have experienced this sometime before.

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  6. Great article a topic I have thought on a number of times.


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