What happened to the days of calling up a friend to wish them a happy birthday or to just catch up on life? I’m not saying that those days are completely obsolete. I’m just saying that they’re few and far between. The purpose of social media is to allow people to easily access information and photos of one another to promote social networking. Well how social can you be when you’re staring at a phone or computer screen all day learning about the person you just friended on Facebook?
Before the Digital Age, we couldn’t just send a quick text to get a quick reply. We couldn’t see who was calling us with the convenience of caller I.D. We couldn’t find out what our friends were up to with a glance at their status updates. Going further back, we couldn’t connect with people unless we were face to face with them. Visiting a friend in person was the only way to communicate (unless you want to throw carrier pigeons and Morse code in the mix).[sc:shn-ad1]
I miss the days of phone calls and snail mail. The days when visiting someone out of the blue didn’t raise an eyebrow. I’m not hating on social media and technology entirely; that’s not the point of this article. I just think that we need to be cautious about what it can do to us and how we treat it.
Social media applications such as Facebook and Instagram are a great way to create the illusion that people aren’t separated by miles and considerable distances. You can easily connect with a friend across the globe with a simple click of the mouse. This is when I whole-heartedly promote it. Using these apps to reach out to people that you can’t physically reach does promote social networking and builds relationships, or at least it opens the door to take these friendships to a new level that doesn’t involve clicking and swiping.
But what about people who you can reach? Your circle of friends. Your co-workers. Your family. It’s crazy how much we can learn about someone without actually having a conversation with them. For instance, you meet someone at a party and end up adding each other on Facebook. It’s likely that by the time you see this person again, you already know what they do for a living, where they went to college and what they studied, if they’re in a relationship and what restaurant they ate at over the weekend. This takes away the excitement of developing personal relationships on a deeper level; the idea of meeting someone interesting and saying, “Hey, let’s get together and chat sometime” is something of the past, or at least more uncommon. Browsing through your friends’ and family’s Facebook and Instagram feeds does spark conversation like, “How was Hawaii? The pictures looked awesome!” but we need to remember that we can’t have a relationship with people when we’re just stalking them online.
I called up my cousin on her birthday and left a voicemail when she didn’t pick up. Hours later, I text to make sure she got the voicemail and after explaining that she was at dinner, she said that I was the only person who actually called instead of texting or Instagramming a birthday greeting. How sad is that?! I admit, I used to be the kind of person who typed up a quick “happy birthday!” comment on Facebook before closing the tab to move on to my emails, but then I realized that if you can call up someone on their special day, then why not? Are we that self-involved and busy to take the time?[sc:shn-ad2]
With all these matchmaking websites and phone apps out there, the dating world is getting more and more impersonal. Single people are going out less to meet someone and they’re exerting their energy on reading people’s dating profiles and spending their time swiping right to signify interest or left to say “no, thanks.” Men and women aren’t taking the time to dress up and head out to a bar or club with their friends with hopes of meeting the man or woman of their dreams. Men don’t have to literally face rejection when they’re in the comfort of their own home, hiding behind their phones. Not to mention they’ve likely made a few connections on Tinder so getting rejected by one woman may not be too big of a hit on their egos.
Where’s the fun in that though? I’m sure it can be a bit fun to easily browse through profiles, but really, it is more exciting than getting dolled up with your girlfriends to have a night out? Think about it, ladies. You’re out on the dance floor when you spot a guy totally eyeing you from across the room. You whisper into your girlfriend’s ear as he makes his way over to you and you anxiously stare and wait. He says hi. You say hi and before you know it, you two are dancing. After a few songs, he takes your hand to lead you to the bar. A couple drinks and another dance later, you realize that you’re interested and give the guy your number. Or you may not! It might not take very long for you to know that he’s not your type and decide to move on to someone else. The point is, you’ve made that physical connection with someone, whether it was a good connection or not. You can’t feel that spark with someone when you’re just browsing through your phone. You can’t feel those butterflies at the pit of your stomach when you never leave the house, and you surely can’t recognize those red flags from someone’s profile (unless they’re really that clueless).
On Our Love Lives:
The next time you’re out in public, take a look at the couples around you and I bet that more times than not, one or both of the people are on their cell phones. They’re likely browsing their Facebook feed, retweeting something or posting an Instagram of their latest meal. Couples are rarely engaging each other in conversation these days because they’re more interested in other people’s lives to look up from their phones. Have some respect for each other’s time and enforce a “no phones at the table” rule during meals and silence your phones so you’re not tempted by every ping and beep. The status updates can wait. That picture can be posted later. If either of you has a job that involves being on social media constantly (or if you just have a desperate need), designate a time for it. The dinner table and the bedroom surely isn’t it.[sc:shn-ad3]
The point of all this is that social media can be a way of bringing people closer together with the convenience of it being instant, but it shouldn’t consume our lives to the point that it does the complete opposite and make us anti-social. Turn off the computer and get out of the house. Have a conversation with a friend. Take a walk. Anything. You may have a better chance of making a good friend or meeting a great match at the coffee shop or park than you would if you stayed indoors with nothing but technology to keep you company. Stop relying on the relationship you have with your phone and actually start making real relationships with people.