Is Social Media Helping or Hindering Us?

Imagine you’re sitting at lunch, chatting with an old friend- but every time you finish a statement, they look up from their phone and mutter, “I’m sorry, what?”.  Or picture waiting in line at the grocery store forever because the lady in front of you won’t get off her phone to talk with the cashier.  Sound familiar? Welcome to the digital age. While social media is rapidly advancing the means of communication, it can sometimes feel like it’s doing the opposite at the exact same time.

 

While it’s easy to be distracted by technology these days, it can be rather irritating and oftentimes, downright rude. No matter how annoying this behavior may be, it is fast becoming the norm. With social media becoming a part of everyday life, what is normally considered couth is changing; and it’s each of our responsibilities to adapt accordingly.

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While social media is rapidly advancing the way we communicate, it can ironically feel like it’s doing the opposite at the exact same time. A great example of this communication adjustment is often seen on Facebook. People love posting about major life events on Facebook. Many enjoy wishing Happy Birthday to their friends and family, and  posting treasured wedding photos; while some even post about an event as personal as a death. Some people feel posting about a person’s death is a way to communicate to many people at once, without having to tell each person individually. Lots of Facebook users find it therapeutic in their time of grief.  Others argue posts like this cheapen their relationships with their family and friends.  Those same people would also argue posting the obligatory “Happy Birthday” posts are insincere as well. Both opinions are valid; it’s all relative to the individual.

 

Social media also seems to take people away from experiencing some of life’s genuine moments.  Instead of enjoying a beautiful meal, people spend more time taking pictures of it than they do eating it. Some interrupt a romantic moment with a significant other to take a picture of the sunset they’re sitting under.  While some find it fun to share these moments online, there’s something to be said about really trying to live in the moment. Isn’t that what life is all about? Many argue there’s no harm in taking themselves out of a moment by snapping a photo, but others consider it very unnecessary.

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Social media is all about easy communication. Smartphones enable us to talk to anyone, anytime, anywhere. People are constantly connected, or “plugged in”. Various studies show that the human brain is actually changing due to this new way of life. People are literally addicted to their smartphones! There is even something called Phantom Vibration Syndrome. Apparently, some people are so hard pressed for a text message, they actually think they feel their phone vibrating when it in fact is not.

 

Is social media good for us or bad for us? Honestly, no one has the right answer.  It comes down to each individual using the communication tools at their own discretion.  However, it seems reasonable to find a balance between real life and social media. There’s no question digital media has changed the world for the better. But it’s important to remember that the people before us lived just fine without it. Do yourself a favor and take a break from your phone every once in a while and take in the world around you…you can always tweet about it later.

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