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CON: Social networking creates real-world disconnect

Social media is corrupting many of the fundamental principles on which we have based our lives as socially active human beings.

When I was a kid, I socialized by going outside and playing. There, I would see other children doing the same thing and would be inclined to go over, introduce myself and find common interests. I am no longer friends with the same people I bonded with through basketballs and hula-hoops in my childhood, but those interactions taught me valuable social skills I have used to carry myself through life.

Now I go outside and rarely see children walking, riding their bikes or playing on the playground. Instead, they bury their faces in phones, iPods and even laptops and lock themselves inside for hours on end, trapped in the world of social media. They play Xbox Live, post status updates to Facebook and text message friends.

It is ironic that being connected to the whole world can make you further from it, but that's what happens with social networking. It shuts off real life connections with those closest to us. For instance, what used to be family game night may now be a Facebook poke war.

We often find it more important to browse through our Facebook "friends" than be involved in our actual friends' and family's lives. We don't know many of these virtual friends, but we have many likes in common, so they must be worth being friends with. We find it more vital to know what everyone else is doing rather than doing something ourselves.

Also, social media is trapping us in a false world of emoticons and virtual realities. Social skill is incredibly valuable, whether it's to form friendships, fall in love or network for school or work. You cannot effectively live your life without knowing how to read people's emotions, not just their frowny and smiley faces.

Technology seems to be replacing every possible inconvenience of everyday life and making human interaction as unnecessary as possible. Even teachers text students assignments and use the Internet as a tool for learning instead of interactively engaging the students themselves.

The multiple forms of the Internet, though fast and convenient, have made us less appreciative of the time and effort it takes for something great. In my childhood, it was extremely rare to own a computer and even rarer to own one with the Internet. Although I was lucky to have both, I had to wait at least five minutes for the computer to connect via dial-up. When I clicked on a webpage, I had to be certain it was the one I wanted; multitasking was not an option back then since the connection was awful and the loading incredibly slow. But I could not contain my excitement when the cool new game on Nickelodeon.com was at my disposal; the wait was worthwhile.

As a child, I felt driven to explore the world, though I had to work harder to attain my knowledge. Now, on a single device, we can have the Internet, a phone, text messaging, games, GPS and much more at our fingertips, and we take the ease of attaining knowledge for granted. Technology has placed the world in the hands of millions with an unlimited Talk, Text, & Surf plan for $99.99 a month, but we're too busy playing on social networks to explore it.

I am afraid that new technology is making mankind antisocial, rude and impatient. Social media has given us the tools to further the connection of the entire world, but for many that is too heavy a load to bear.

Technology has created a world that has advanced humankind too much; this virtual world may, in fact, become the world. This world, a sad sight, would be a world without experience, a world without passion, a world without true feelings. But most troubling of all, this would be a world without truly having to look one another in the eye.


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