Over the past decade, social media has developed into a type of communication fit for our generation. People are able to present themselves in unimaginable ways, allowing them to express interests and dislikes. But most importantly, Facebook, Twitter and other networking sites serve as tools for procrastination.
While chatting with friends, reading statuses and skimming Tweets, I wonder what happened to traditional communication in the current tech-savvy era. People’s lives seemingly revolve around receiving digital messages, as they spend countless hours staring at screens and communicating with people online even though they are geographically close.
I understand social media is a beautiful thing, providing people an opportunity to stay instantly in touch with others locally, nationally and internationally. Still, these advances come with costs.
Rather than speaking face-to-face with others, people articulate their thoughts and feelings though short messages — smiley faces and shortened phrases like “lol” are used to express emotions.
Reality check. The newfound ease that comes with social media may be causing anxiety among people who are afraid of in-person conversations — people fear natural discourse is not cool enough anymore. Think about being at a party but having no one to talk to. What is the first thing you do? You look at your phone. Your inbox has become a blanket — a solution to your uneasiness.
The constant use of social media stems from people’s fear of being misunderstood. People can edit and re-edit digital messages as much as they like until they decide they’ve perfectly conveyed their thoughts.
People can make themselves sound intelligent, meaningful or witty. Cell phones have become the faces of their users, and messages have become direct reflections of people’s personalities. People can sound like whomever they choose.
However, there are rules regarding messaging. Guys should only text girls three days after they first meet, or else they will come across as desperate. If people respond to a text message within a minute, they will be perceived as overly anxious. But what about making real, genuine conversation these days? That seems scarier than anything.
Have you ever been on a date with someone who you have spent so much time messaging online and using a phone, but you had nothing to say to them in person? Somehow, you felt more comfortable speaking to them through texts and Facebook messages than in a face-to-face conversation. The described experience is more common than people think and can only be described as awkward.
I can’t help but wonder what life would be like if it was similar to that of “Friends” or “Seinfeld,” where people only use telephones and answering machines. People’s lives would reflect who they truly are, not what is on your Facebook profile or how many “likes” you received on your latest status update.
Digital communication has taken away from what makes humans thrive — the ability to express thought through in-person discussion. The more people use social media, the more self-conscious they become, like guarded shells of their former selves.
My call to action is not for people to stop texting or deactivate their Facebooks, but rather to measure their lives by the days they lead.
Texting and typing are tools that have only given a bigger role to the thumb — they are not the only way to communicate. A group of people were referred to as Gen X. The way this generation is socializing, it ought to be known as Generation teXt.