My class and I were lucky enough to join a radio recording. I was just in the audience, listening, trying to look as if I had some fascinating thoughts about fascinating things. I was paying attention, though. The topic was whether social media could make us more social. The three women in the debate answered yes, citing reasons such as a broader network could be created, you could share different parts of yourself with the world and such.
Social media in general, such as facebook, twitter, tumblr, instagram and the like, have been created to broaden your reach. You get to know new people, you can get in touch with them easier and share pieces of yourself at the same time. It’s got positives.
Of course, there are two sides to everything and this is no different. The amount of people glued to their phones at all times has definitely increased. Ten years ago, you wouldn’t see half as many people fiddling with their iPhones (nevermind the fact that iPhones didn’t exist ten years ago; you get my point). The access to everything you could possibly want (pictures of pretty clothes, cat videos, the ability to chat with the gorgeous guy in your math class) everywhere you go is too tempting. No one wants to wait for the bus while doing nothing. Why not play Candy Crush? Why not post an Instagram photo of your shoes? Why not finish that 40k Jaime/Brienne fanfic you found yesterday?
We socialize in different ways but those ways are getting increasingly limited to only digital devices. When was the last time you had a three hour conversation with your best friend? When was the last time you went out to a cafe and spent more time eating the food rather than taking a picture of it, finding the right filter, #coffee #chocolate #atacafé.
I will be the first to admit I feel more comfortable expressing myself to all of internet rather than an individual who might do something like, I don’t know, talk back. Maybe that’s what this is about? You just want people to listen or compliment, you don’t not necessarily care for their conversation. I’m just stabbing in the dark here, of course; who even knows what every single person thinks while scrolling their facebook newsfeed? Talking for a whole people is not what I’m interested in. What I am interested in, however, is whether or not this is helping us or stopping us from reaching our full potential as human beings.
What people enjoyed to do in the 1700s or 1800s was mostly sewing and riding horses and going to balls (or maybe I’m just thinking of Jane Austen novels). A hundred years from now, we will be known as the Electronic Age. Are we more advanced in terms of personality and intelligence?
“Their phones and iPods and iPads were as good as glued to their hands,” they’ll say. “They couldn’t live without them.” And will they be wrong? Would you correct them?
I take my phone everywhere. It’s with me when I listen to music in the bus, when I get text messages telling me to buy milk and tea, when I scroll through my tumblr dashboard for hours and at the end of the day, reading fanfiction or books (a topic for another day, but books have also gone digital, which is upsetting yet understandable in this day and age).
Are we getting more social? Or are we just finding ways to pretend we are? We all care how many facebook friends we have but how many do you talk to every day? From all the “likes” you get on your Instagram photo, you would expect to have many more shoulders to cry on and ears that would listen. I feel it’s all an illusion, we trick the brain into thinking we’re moving forward while we’re really moving backwards. The world is too advanced for us to become Neanderthals again. But maybe the Neandarthals were better at socializing with each other than us? Maybe we’re moving backwards in evolution in that way?
A hundred years from now, we will be known as the Electronic Age. Maybe we’ll also be known as the beginning of the end. The end of humanity’s strongest instinct; communication.