Is social media damaging to society?
Does the social media revolution have a negative impact on the way we communicate with each other in Scotland?
AvrilAv Cadden, freelance journalist and PR consultant says “yes”
In any restaurant you’ll see people sitting together – hardly talking and checking their phones. I have 19-year-old twin boys and mobiles are banned from the dinner table. Their devices ping with notifications through Whatsapp/snapchat/facebook/ Tw Twitter/instagram. They are itching to get away and see what the they’re missing – who can blame them when the mum chat is probably boring – but is what they are tuning into any mor more stimulating? I was brought up with no mobile or internet, and I’m glad, because I see the benefits of social net networking (there are many), but the dangers too. How we define relationships, fo form and manage them has changed dramatically, as is ho how we communicate. And much as I love some aspects of the social world, nothing beats seeing people face-t face-to-face. You connect, form relationships, read facial clues and body language, and hear a to tone of voice – little subtleties say so much. People having a bad day tell their friends via social media,
receiving sad-faced emojis and careful words gives comfort, but nothing beats a good hug from a pal and a real shoulder to cry on. Friends used to mean a bunch of mates you hung out with and shared experiences. Now we can have hundreds and thousands of “friends” on social networks from all over the world. Sadly, when we do get together with real people there’s the temptation to ignore the person in front of us to check our phones and connect with others elsewhere. Ask most people what they do first thing in the morning and last thing at night and it’s checking their social networks. One friend told her me her husband complained because they used to go to bed, have a cuddle and chat, now she checks Facebook and ignores him. Nurture what you already have. The paradox is – although we are communicating more – we are losing the art of communication. The written word is replaced by emojis and bit-sized chunks of information, face-to-face interactions are rarer and when they occur they can be lost to internet interruptions. The world is moving faster and keeping up is stressful. Social networks are essential for my work but the lines between work and ‘me time’ are blurred. Updating and keeping up is time-consuming and brings anxiety. If you’re offline, your phone breaks or you have no internet, there is blind panic. The first thing most people ask when they go on holiday is – “does the hotel have Wifi?” There’s no wonder there’s a surge of people talking about mindfulness. Sometimes we don’t know how to just BE. We live in the past (lots of uploaded nostalgic photos) or we’re thinking about the next thing. We’re not in the moment which is why we’re reminded to be mindful, to experience our surroundings and the people who are with us – not what’s on a mobile screen. On a week’s retreat holiday I had no connections, but I walked, enjoyed nature, exercised and cleared my head – it was wonderful. I disconnected and reconnected. We should all try this – even just for one day.
Although we are communicating more, we are actually losing the art of communication