Our social lives have drastically changed since the emergence of social media. How we communicate now is much different than it was just 10 or so years ago: we are now more likely to speak with family and friends through electronic means than through natural conversations, people are attached to their devices during physical meetings, and we are more and more getting accustomed to seeing someone’s online presence as their online real personality. These topics will be discussed at length in the following paragraphs.
Talking with our family members and friends by phone or in person is seen commonly now as not the most comfortable option. This is especially true for young adults and teenagers. According to the Pew Research Center, “Roughly two thirds (67%) of social media users say that staying in touch with current friends and family members is a major reason they use social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace or LinkedIn; about half say they use these sites to reconnect with old friends. Compared with older adults, social media users under the age of 50 are especially likely to say that these tools help them keep up with existing friends and reconnect with old ones. Roughly seven in ten users under the age of fifty say that staying in touch with current friends is a major reason they use online social platforms, and just over half say that reconnecting with old friends is equally important” (Heimlich, Russell). Personal bonds create a powerful link in social media. Without these long-lasting relationships with family and friends into the equation, it is doubtful that social media would have the same impact and popularity that it has now.
An annoying factor with the widespread use of devices that house social media applications on them is that people carry their smartphones and such into conversations. Someone will be talking without a device (or worse yet, with a phone or something else) and the listener will be checking his or her electronic tool or staring at it while the other person is trying to communicate. In fact, according to the article The Effect of Technology on Face-to-Face Communication, even though people know that technology is lowering our quality of face-to-face communication, the majority of individuals who own mobile phones use them during conversations (Drago, Emily). This phenomenon seems to be only getting worse with more and more features on our devices. It is getting increasingly difficult to have a meaningful and emotionally potent conversation because of the prevalence of social media on smartphones, tablets, and the like.
In addition, identities can be confused through social media. A person might be quite different in real life compared to his or her online persona. This creates a form of cognitive dissonance when you meet an individual in real life that you have met only online. Therefore, this bending of content for an audience’s perception affects one’s physical interactions with others, especially in terms of judgement. Unfortunately, people are also likely to believe in virtual personas as completely truthful (Cover, Rob).
Overall, social media, with its ever-increasing addictiveness and inclusion into our lives, is reshaping how we communicate. For instance, we enjoy interacting with friends and family through electronic means more than ever before, people often use their devices during in-person meetings, and our online personas are commonly different from our real selves, which creates dissonance during physical interactions.
Drago, Emily. “The Effect of Technology on Face-to-Face Communication.” Inquiries Journal, Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications, 1 Jan. 2015, www.inquiriesjournal.com/articles/1137/the-effect-of-technology-on-face-to-face-communication.
Heimlich, Russell. “Using Social Media to Keep in Touch.” Pew Research Center, Pew Research Center, 7 Feb. 2014, www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2011/12/22/using-social-media-to-keep-in-touch/.
Cover, Rob. Digital Identities: Creating and Communicating the Online Self. Academic Press/Elsevier, 2016.