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Social me or social media?

Daniel worries about the decline of our social interactions offline vs. online!


Written by Daniel Waugh | View this authors Twitter page and posted in opinion


This is an opinion of a young person and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of SpunOut.ie. It is one person's experience and may be different for you. If you'd like to write something for SpunOut.ie please contact editor@spunout.ie.


"We’re more connected, with a vaster network but at a cost"

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When entrepreneur, Steve Jobs, and business tycoon, Mark Zuckerberg, created the iPhone and Facebook, they brought the naissance of an age imprisoned with a technological ball and chain. How many times have you checked your smartphone in the past 20 minutes? I’ve checked mine almost three times before even writing this sentence.

Before I sat down to type a single word, I ran upstairs to find my phone, and see if I had any messages (I didn’t). I felt a little bit angry with myself for doing that. With all these sci-fi epics about evil machines, who would have guessed that it did not take the evil company, SkyNet, to send a deadly Terminator in a leather jacket, boots and motorcycle to enslave humanity? We happily did it ourselves.

We can’t deny that our glittery gadgets are part of us, part of our world and plays a major part in shaping our social lives offline. We are after all creatures of the social world. We create social circles, we build relationships, and we cross the street and unapologetically avoid people we don’t like. Our social world defines who we are, and what we do. We panic when the 10% battery warning glares back at us, and have to ask everyone at the party for the iPhone charger we need so desperately.

But, lucky for us everyone understands and empathises with this digital age distress and offer you their Android charger, iPhone 4S charger, universal charger - and with a sigh of relief the party can continue as your battery icon turns from danger red to safety green.

But if you lift your stare from your screen and survey your lively surroundings you’ll find it’s not so lively after all. Sure, the speakers are screaming with some great music, everyone has a drink in their hand, but what’s that perched firmly in the other hand? A smartphone. And what is everyone doing?

Updating their Facebook to let everyone know who they are with, where they are, how much fun they are having and live tweeting with #BANTER2014LOLZ. Not to mention Snapchatting all of their contacts who, somewhere else in the real world, have their heads down in silent prayer reading off the same smartphone hymn sheet doing the exact same thing. The party has shifted subtly from the living room to the online. Face-to-face interaction is slowly becoming something of the past.

What's the real cost of constant connectivity?

We’re more connected, with a vaster network but at a cost. Are offline; real interactions going the way of DVDs, CDs and facing possible extinction like broadsheet newspapers? These all rushed, fumbled and darted to land on online platforms to ensure their survival as online data. Has hanging out with friends offline begun the same transition? And I mean, actually hanging out! My friends and I now coolly place all of our phones on a dinner table when we’re out, and whoever cracks and lunges for their phone is threatened with paying for the meal. The fact that we have to devise fun ways to secure actually hanging out with one another would have been laughable not even a decade ago and made a chilling episode of The Twilight Zone.

It’s looking like simple chitchats over a delicious roasted coffee are reduced to words and kilobytes. After all being sociable with friends is more than what we say; it’s how we say it and what we do. Laughing heartedly, flirting shyly and even being angry at each other are replaced by emoticons nowadays. How many of you have typed “haha” with a stone cold face? Albeit the demise of social me for the rise of social media is worrying, it does admittedly allow people to make friendships where anxiety might have stepped in and put a stop to this. It also breaks down barriers such as distance, and can in fact be a powerful tool for groups to share similar passions.

Despite this raging against the machine, people (myself included, admittedly) are nothing more than a slave to it. It is an undeniable truth that social media entertains us and connects us, but it also distracts us. And I say this all as I refresh my Facebook newsfeed over, and over again.

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Published August 7th, 2014
Last updated October 27th, 2015
Tags social media social networking socialising
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