I heard a thing on NPR today and I have been thinking a lot about it. I spend way too much time here yet feel very disconnected from others.
Where do you stand about social media?
For many years it was FB and I had fun but then the election and the ugliness came out, now I see some of that same stuff here. In real life, we don't often surround ourselves with people who are different in some ways, yet we have interactions. On this kind of platform we find it easy to tear each other apart or say unkind things that we would never do in the flesh.
I think I am a yes to this question.
My wife and I have been an island in contemporary culture of Texas. The people here are wonderful. I feel like a kid in a candy shop, getting to meet so many like minded people. My wife has her family of 11 siblings, nieces and nephews, but my family of fundamentalist Christians are estranged.
I try to live in the moment and be kind. Because I grew up among fundamentalists, I feared opening up to show myself. The result is poor socialization. I think a others were similarly affected. Here I feel free to be open, and thank everyone for making this a special place.
I am meeting, and believe I'll make friends, with more people here than I have in my entire full body existence. I hope to meat some of you in person. There are many interesting people here.
Social media is a tool, and how it affects anybody's ability to relate to real people depends completely on how they use the tool. More and more people pay attention to their phones than they do to each other, even in public spaces that are designed for interaction, like bars for example. Others don't have any trouble with personal interactions IRL and exhibit some discipline over their social media habits. And, for some, social media is the only alternative for meaningful interpersonal interaction. I voted maybe.
I went for maybe. Social media does throw us into a sort of relationship with people we'd probably never have even spoken to in real life, but on the other hand it also allows us to form friendships with people we'd otherwise never even have known existed - you and I being an example of that. Like most things, social media is a double-edged sword.
Dan Goleman, the author of Emotional Intelligence has a great book on this topic called "Focus." Research shows that it is harming our ability to connect with others, especially in children. They are not learning the social skills through face to face interaction that most of us learned before social media and it is causing problems in the workforce, especially for millenials.
I'm not sure that question can really be answered with total accuracy. If you really think about the different types of people out there, how some are way too open and giving, and some are just way too private, and some that are just plain devious and after something... it's really hard to tell.
Add the fact that people haven't really been teaching how to treat others and how to present one's self since round about the 80s... well, kinda throws a wrench in the works.
I know I met my current husband of 23 years online through a bulletin board type program so it isn't a total lost. But at the same time people get really hurt, even disappear from being too open online.It's made a lot of people shut down and be more private for safety reasons... good reasons but still, it cuts into any honest connections without being able to meet up at some point as well.
Writing a letter had a formal etiquette that was taught in school, likewise using the telephone had rules and customs that had to be learned.
Even at first e-mail was treated like a form of postal communication akin to a letter.
Then came text-ing and instant messaging and mobile phones that for some reason are longer considered by the younger people as an actual phone but as some form of telepathy that people are supposed to pretend they cannot hear in public.
No one teaches you how to behave in communications anymore, simply how to access it.
There was a short-lived movement for "Netiquette" but it was simply too much bother for the instant gratification crowd.
When being bad mannered on line became the norm, it spilled over in to real life.
People actually now say LOL to each other, or BRB instead of excuse me, even air quotes which were bad enough have given way to just saying "Hash Tag" and worst of all, meeting someone's eye, making eye contact, even when talking directly to someone is utterly Taboo and has even been referred to as a form of assault, or an unwanted advance.
I enjoy the use of social media, but it is not the template for my life, as seems now to increasingly the case, with so many others people.
Social media helps to connect some people more deeply in some ways. Unfortunately for social media addicts, it can take away from personal interaction in the real world. Friends who come for a visit, in real life, yet spend hours on their phone, are a puzzlement to me.
I try really hard to not tear into anyone. Even if it's offensively racist, misogynistic, homophobic etc. I'll try once maybe twice to get through to folks but after that it's flag or ignore. Haven't blocked anyone yet. One other thing is I stopped posting political stuff in the groups. I post it to everyone just to remind myself and others that we don't all think alike.
It could be affecting relationships. I think the biggest change in the US is talk radio and biased news outlets. They have divided the country into us and them. They glorify ignorance, I know people who think that science is a liberal conspiracy. Tribalism at it's worst, proof that humans are still, genetically, upper paleolithic hunter gatherers who will follow the big man rather than be independent.
This problem has been around pretty much since the internet really took off, circa 1995. When I first got online in 1996, it was IRC (internet relay chat), which is still around and like the chat rooms and private messages here on agnostic.com. There was also AOL, and I think ICQ was around at that time. And news stories came out in those days about people spending too much time on the internet, and how it was interfering with social skills, etc....
I think the big difference now is that people can take it with them wherever they go, thanks to mobile devices. While I haven't personally experienced an instance of my real life interactions being stalled due to it (just brief interruptions), I think I would find it hugely annoying, and wouldn't wait to say something about it. Spending more time with and paying more attention to a mobile device while with other people in the physical world isn't just rude, but seems a psychological problem.
One other difference about all this that I don't think is ever mentioned, there are usually no time parameters associated with internet activities. If you go out in the real world with folks, there is a start and end time. On the internet... not so much. I often pick up conversations where I left off the last time, which in some cases could be days ago or more rarely weeks ago. Of course, with out the aid of chat logs, I don't think I could do this much at all.