Just how social is social media?

When I think back to my life before I began utilizing social media, it’s hard to remember just what I did with my free time. But these days I know just how I waste time: social media, a tool that has revolutionized the way we interact with other people.

Thanks to social media tools like Facebook and Twitter, instead of completely forgetting about that random girl from junior high whose locker was next to yours, you know that she bought some new flats on sale at Target and–big news–she just painted her toenails blue! No matter whether you think it’s for good or bad, you can’t deny social media has drastically changed the way we communicate.

An article on the Guardian sparked debate over social media. Some say social media allows us to be in contact contact with friends, family and colleagues, and others argue it has made us lazy and isolated from the real world. Even though I know it sounds like a cop out, I think both are true, and I agree with some points of both sides of the argument.

While social media is great for maintaining friendships and networking, to me it also creates a sense of extreme laziness and isolation. Sometimes I spend time looking at social media sites and then realize I haven’t actually had a face-to-face conversation with another human being in hours. Other times I Facebook chat with my roommates–while we’re in the same apartment. Is it something I can’t talk to them about in person? No. We’re just honestly that lazy sometimes.

For friends I’m still close to, I’d much rather talk on the phone or Skype than get a bi-annual life update via Facebook. But there are people I’d like to keep in touch with who I’m just not comfortable calling. Thanks to social media (namely Facebook), I have kept in touch with numerous friends from high school who I otherwise would have surely stopped talking to a month after graduation.

I can’t lie. I’m on Facebook a lot. I find it seems to magically pop up on my laptop screen when I just don’t want to read about 19th century theology any longer. And as I get more used to Twitter, I’m sure I’ll be spending more time there, too.

But just how much is too much?

In my case, I find I spend way more time on social networking sites when I am at school, avoiding homework than when I’m at home with my family or am busy with other activities. As long as I’m occupied with something else, I have no real need to check Facebook or Twitter. But when I’m at school, sitting in my room, staring at the wall I go right back to social media sites.

As social media grows and changes as everything does, it will be interesting to see its role in people’s lives. Will everyone be connected to social media sites at all times? Will Facebook and Twitter die out, only to be replaced by the next big thing? Only time will tell. But I’m betting social media isn’t going anywhere for quite awhile.

    • aburkey
    • February 2nd, 2011

    Have you ever found yourself going to the website without realizing it and then being confused at how you got to the page? I agree that I usually end up looking at the sites when I can’t think of anything to do except homework. As much as I appreciate social media for the things it can do to help us, I wish I was better at resisting it!

  1. I used to Facebook chat my suitemates when I lived in Swanson. So true that it’s sad we can’t seem to get up and walk to each other (or just yell…) but instead feel the need to type everything. Same with texting and Twitter. I don’t like the argument that some people make, however, that social media is making our generation more ADD. Do I like things to move at a fast pace and do I need to have something to do? Yes. But that doesn’t mean I have to always be on Facebook or Twitter. Like you said, when I’m occupied, I see no need to stalk people from high school I haven’t talked to since before we graduated. And lately, I’ve taken up reading for fun again, which is something I’m sure would shock people who think all we do is social media. I think there are valid points made against social media, like you pointed out, but making broad statements about how it’s ruining humanity is going a little far.

  2. I, too, am guilty of relying on Facebook chat or texting to communicate with a friend a few doors down or my roommate in the room right next to mine. I don’t know if social media is making us lazier necessarily, but I do think that it may be causing us to lose some social skills.
    As a sidenote, I think it is also interesting to think that just years ago, we relied on passing notes in class to communicate. Now, this no longer really exists–we just text instead.

    • teresavu
    • February 6th, 2011

    I agree about the whole mindless internet thing. It’s not like I feel attached to it when I have better “in real life” things to do. I only seem to wonder about it when I’m bored which makes me question how addictive it really is

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