The other day as I was trawling through my social media empire I can across an interesting observation. As it currently stands I have just over 300 hundred friends followers Twitter (go me!). After some thought, I decided to look at some of my tweets to my gang of followers. It was the tweets to some of my fellow peers that sparked the most interesting reflection. After all these are people that I interact with on a weekly basis, yet the line of dialogue with most stops at the keyboard. We pass in the hallways, wait patiently out the front of lecture theatres and even share the same classes together and barely a word is spoken. Yet online we share witty remarks, favourite each other’s tweets and even share content with one another.
It seems we are all comfortable to share our thoughts and opinions within the realms of digital space, yet we are cautious to do so person to person. I know that I am just as much to blame for the lack of upward communication so in no way am I taking issue with any of my fellow peers, I am just simply making an observation.
As a strong advocate of digital media and convergence this is a very interesting topic of discussion. Has social media inhibited our ability to communicate in the real world? Now I know this is a very broad statement and many of you will be sitting down reading this and promptly answering, “No, I have many friendships outside of social media”, however I urge you to consider and re ask yourself the question.
When asked about the impact that social media was having on our ability to comfort and interact face-to-face Dr Subrahmanyam proposed, “ I don’t think that youth are giving up face to face communication” (2010, pg.12). So is all this talk of ‘backwards communication’ regarding social media just a form of moral panic?
For every negative view of social media there is an equally opposing positive opinion. Just recently I came across a news story highlighting a study conducted in the USA about the negative effect and potentially life threatening dangers that social media and digital devices can have on us as a society. Now as someone who admits to walking into several telegraph poles, people and even a parked car whilst trying to tweet, I can understand the medias concern. All jokes a side, this can actually be a very dangerous occurrence. As a society it seems as though we are all trying to stay connected at all times of the day that we are forgetting simple cognitive functions.
Lazaros, Xu and Londt state that “ Text messaging while walking is a signiﬁcant area for concern. The number of text messages sent is expected to be more than 8 trillion in 2012. The dangers of multitasking have hit the streets as people are becoming involved in more accidents while walking as they text on mobile phones” (2012, pg.88). So has social media destroyed our common sense? If you listen to some media reports you will most likely think twice before sending that driving ‘Snapchat’ or whilst texting and walking (I have the bruises to prove it is a bad idea).
As for my digital friends I promise to make more of an effort to engage in conversation in the real world. Apologies to all if I open the lines of dialogue with a ‘dad joke’.
E J, Lazaros , R, Xu & S, Londt (2012) Using an Activity to Simulate the Dangers of Multitasking with Technology while Walking, Science Activities: Classroom Projects and Curriculum Ideas, Summons Library, accessed 31st August 2013.
K Subrahmanyam, (2010), Teens, social media, and relationships: an interview with. The Prevention Researcher, Summons Library, accessed 31st August 2013.
2nd Year Media & Communication & Commerce Student @UOW
Majoring in Digital Communication & Marketing