There has been much talk of the fact that communication via social media has never been easier. This depends on your definition of communication. We learn social skills in the school playground and the workplace but this is not full communication. With issues such as sexism and bullying, peer pressure and one-upmanship we rarely allow the real us to become known fully in these places.
Normally we would only fully open up to our family but there used to be a layer in between, places and events where we met friends and engaged in social activities. Often this would be playing outdoors or at the Cinema. Often the pub was another place we could let our hair down.
This has become less popular now we can contact each other without leaving the house. I am sure many people still meet face to face but for a growing number of people it is safer (They think!) to socialise from the safety of the PC. Unfortunately this is now becoming as risky as meeting in the real world, specially for children.
So you have a thousand followers on twitter, 200 friends on Facebook and you talk to them incessantly but are you talking to them or projecting an image of yourself as you would wish to be seen. Half the time you do not even remember why you added them and some you are never likely to meet. Even photographs can be doctored with ease on the net. I saw an ad recently which removes unwanted items from pictures automatically. Any nine stone weakling can be a muscleman and any young girl can become a supermodel.
When learning social skills face to face we know who we are dealing with and the knocks we face teach us how to deal with future encounters. On a social networking site we interact but only with a PC. The people are words and images that can be easily altered. If we only interact with our gadgets we are isolating ourselves from society more than ever before.
I am an avid fan of social media and all things I.T. (Though you wouldn’t believe it judging by this post!) but I know that I have a solid grounding in face to face communications. My wife is often embarrassed by my habit of engaging total strangers in conversation in the supermarket or park, but you know what? They often open up to me when I do. Many are glad of a bit of conversation and the result is a pleasant chat. Social media is great but should be used as a secondary interactive arena and not as your main means of communications.
I think my views are backed up by most observers who know that while communication has never been as easy, many people have never felt so isolated and lonely. In the end, no matter how many friends you have online you are still effectively talking to a machine which can be switched off if the conversation gets uncomfortable, social skills learned-none. And a machine cannot hug you or console you when you are down.
To finish on a lighter note, Facebook and Twitter are full of people who post a lot but the things they post are often saying the same things over and over. Many post in order to get any response and often seek to belittle others. I have lately cut down my time on social media. To be honest there were very few posts which interested me and with the same posts doing the rounds every month or so it became boring.
I turned to WordPress to read and post honest and intelligent commentary on society, issues and so on. I have not been disappointed and have read many things which widen my life experience, but there is a downside. Until you build up your followers there is very little interaction and you can feel even more isolated. This is not a major issue for me as I can always shut down the computer and do something else. It is nice, though, to know you are being read and it does take a while to become established. So a challenge. if you read my blog and are genuinely interested give me a subject. I am not an expert in any particular area but have a good wide knowledge of stuff and a lifetime of experience of human beings. I will always have an opinion so give me a subject and I will try to offer an intelligent and reasoned post on that subject. Over to you…….