Social Media and Digital Devices

I was intrigued by today’s Daily Prompt: The Social Network.  In particular, we are asked:

Do you feel like you “get” social media, or do you just use it because that’s where all your friends and family are?

I must confess that I use social media sparingly. I finally caved in and had my daughter help me set one up more than a year ago. My reluctance stems from my need and desire to personalize my communications with friends and family. With social media, more often than not (unless you limit exposure narrowly), you are broadcasting to a community.  It seems so impersonal.

A segment of a social network

A segment of a social network (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I do go there but not as often as faithful users/followers/revelers/status posters do.  I appreciate that I get reminded of some people’s birthdays.  I get to see some photos of where people are or what they have been up to.

I get that social media can be used to effect change: Think Arab Spring. Think US Elections 2012. Think various fundraisers.

I don’t get the status updates: “Flight delayed. Stuck in SFO airport for another three hours.”  Do I have to know that? Or the blow-by-blow photos of food consumed.

I lump social media with smart phones, tablets, laptops and all.  Young people use it intuitively. It has become their primary means of communication.  If our parents chided us for spending hours on the phone when we were kids, how many times do we admonish our own to refrain from bringing their devices to the dinner table?  Or to bed?

English: Infographic on how Social Media are b...

English: Infographic on how Social Media are being used, and how everything is changed by them. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What about us grown-ups?  Can Silicon valley types turn off their smart devices for a meeting?  How many times have we seen families out to dinner with almost every member on their devices, parents included?  Guilty!

I find though, that social media, tweeting, texting, emailing IM-ing, are all forms of communication behind a wall.  It may be beneficial for the painfully shy types. But for others, it’s license to unleash a torrent of commentary and declarations that would never be spoken at all if the intended recipient(s) is/are right in front of them.  It’s almost like the story of the ever-so-gentle mild-mannered soft-spoken uncle who becomes a daredevil profanity-spewing hell-driver behind the wheel.

Think bullying on these various formats.  Or even inappropriate communique such as sexting or sextweets? Or salacious poses that are committed forever to exist in the world-wide web?

One great aspect lost in such communications are the nuances that facial expressions, the voice intonations and inflections, even body language helps to humanize the experience and elevate it to a different level.  Emoticons certainly help but it still cannot replace these tangible messages that go well beyond the written words.  After all, in most significant human interactions, words comprise less than a third of the message.

What about the respectful and ethical aspects of good communications?  Perhaps we need to mandate that all young people receive training on this as early as the primary school years.  As parents and would-be parents, we have to face the fact that these are here to stay. But we need to paint on the canvas how we would like for the communications to be used and conducted. It would not be unlike us reminding our toddlers and pre-schoolers to remember their “please” and “thank you’s” or “ask nicely please.”

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9 Responses to Social Media and Digital Devices

  1. giselzitrone says:

    Wünsche ein schönes Weekend mit lieben Grüßen von mir Gislinde

    Like

  2. giselzitrone says:

    Schöner Bericht wünsche einen schönen Tag,und ein schönes weekend .Grüße lieb Gislinde

    Like

  3. I rarely post on my Facebook.Though I am a silent observer of what’s going on with my “friends.” However I really don’t care much of what they are eating every meal, nor where they are shopping now, nor do I really want to know that they are “pissed off” with someone that I don’t even know nor care to know.

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  4. munchow says:

    Your points here are absolutely valid and well thought of. I agree with your sentiment and the aspects of social media you don’t like or find challenging. At the same time I also see the value of social media, but I think I use them sparely, just like you. It’s another form of communication, but is sure doesn’t eliminate person-to-person communication. At least not for me.

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  5. I get part of the social media and would like to believe it is there for good. To inspire and build people and communities. No, I’m not into it because everyone else is. My personal Facebook, rarely gets updated. I do use it to reach out and maintain family bonding.

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    • likeitiz says:

      Agree. Is it a double-edged sword, we wonder. While people have espoused its virtues, such as finding long lost relatives and friends, raising awareness of important social issues, raising funds for valuable causes, moving people to a common voice, etc. it has its pitfalls: we sacrifice that which maybe one of the last things we call our own—our privacy, our identity? Young people seem to think privacy is overrated, what with the reality shows where everyone is allowed to look into people’s bedrooms, so to speak. Is privacy dead?

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  6. Pingback: Daily Prompt: The Social Network | My Atheist Blog

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