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?

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YES

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

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