Social Media is Retarding our Communication Skills According to Cara Pring, writer and author of thesocialskinny. com, as of May, 2012, 62% of adults use some form of social media. If you observe any post secondary classroom before instruction begins, you’ll see the majority of students engrossed in some type of social media. We have become more comfortable engaging in the digital world than we are with the people right in front of us. Social media has allowed us to become more connected yet, potentially, more disconnected than ever before.
Social media is creating a generation of “over-sharers”. This need to over share can also create a dangerous environment. We have become very comfortable telling the world things, which in years past, would have been considered private information. Facebook allows you to check in at a destination or share vacation photos in real time. While this need to over share can seem harmless, we are unwittingly telling sinister people that we are not home or maybe that we are home alone. We are slowly losing our ability to determine what information to keep private and what information to share.
Social media is creating a false sense of connection and an atmosphere of friendship. According to Cara Pring, in 2012 Facebook had 845 million monthly active users and there was an average of 750 tweets made per second. We are doing a lot of communicating but are we really saying anything of value. The more “friends or followers” a person has the more popular they may feel. Unfortunately popularity does not equate to friendship. Social media only requires us to have surface relationships and does not require meaningful conversation.
True friendship requires investing in a relationship through quality time with open and honest face-to-face communication. As a society we have come to value frequent communication rather than meaningful conversation. In an article written by Susan per Danko for Forbes magazine, about 7% of communication is based strictly on words while the other 93% is based on nonverbal communication, also known as body language. The words “I’m fine” may not always mean that everything is okay.
Having the ability to hear and observe non-verbal cues allows you to understand more clearly the meaning behind the words. An email, text message or tweet can never really replace a telephone or face-to-face conversation that allows you to receive these nonverbal cues. Taking the time to build relationships through meaningful conversation will create friendships for lifetime instead of just acquaintances for today. Social media has created a generation with an addiction to over sharing, a need for popularity and a desire for constant communication.
This ability to interact with other people 24/7 has driven us to simply share information rather than requiring us to develop relationships. We have moved away from social gatherings with face-to-face conversations in lieu of chat rooms and instant messaging. I do not look forward to the day when we will never have to physically interact with another human being.