Written by: Brittany Levy
Two days ago , I asked the question, “Is Social Media making us less social?”
Today I want to take an alternative view…
You can choose to either reject it or embrace it, but the fact of the matter is that it is that you cannot escape it. Nineteenth century civilians complained that the Pony Express would change their communication system for the worse, twentieth century civilians complained that telephones would alter the dynamic of face-to-face interactions, twenty-first century civilians currently complain that social media has damaged social skills, and I’d be willing to bet my bottom dollar that generations to come will continue to criticize trends in technology.
There will always be critics of the latest forms of technology. Don’t let yourself be one of them. You can whine all you want, but your bitterness won’t change the fact that you’ll be left out of social events and give a leg up to competitors in the workplace if you choose to ignore social media altogether.
Sharing is Caring
Take a moment to look in a figurative mirror and realize what you’re doing right now – hearing new ideas from someone that you most likely never would have heard from otherwise.
With the recent prevalence of blogs and advocacy groups, the Internet is a place to express yourself and connect yourself with those who share similar beliefs. Whether you’re a feminist, a civil rights activist, an LBGT advocate, or simply a passionate person, your voice can be heard through the multitude of social media sites.
Or, on a completely different note, you can hear arguments from people on the opposite end of the spectrum. It is extremely important to bear a comprehensive awareness of opposing viewpoints in addition to communicating with like-minded individuals; luckily, social media is a great outlet for both.
Keep in touch
Although you may get annoyed by the seemingly endless suggested Facebook groups to join, it will seem quite less annoying when you find out that the valedictorian of your high school class became the CEO of a Fortune 500 business through a brief look at your high school class Facebook group. Social media is the easiest way to stay in touch with people that you most likely would not have kept in touch with otherwise, thus providing an evident breakthrough in social interaction.
A Tinderella Story
Social media doesn’t only help improve friendships, though – it’s the twenty-first century love guru. Think of the other options for finding a partner: blind dates, pick-up lines at a bar, hitting on your work partner…dating sites offer a great alternative.
You can use your own discretion as opposed to that of a friend who sets up a blind date, know more about someone than you’ll learn in a short-lived drunken conversation, and be sure that you’re not wasting your time on someone who isn’t looking for a relationship.
Dating sites provide a great way to initiate a relationship that can blossom into something much greater. Without them, there simply would be quite a few less romantic dates and enchanted smiles.
Same Attitude, Different Latitude
Social media also allows people to prolong long-distance friendships. Unlike international calls/text and letters, social media is a free option, so people are more likely to use it as a means of staying in touch. Also, social media users don’t even need to reach out to people in order to keep up with their lives – they will know what their friends are up to through their posts. Further, social media is an easy, accessible way to stay in touch with people.
Have Our Face-to-Face Social Skills Changed?
I’m no mind-reader, but I could take a wild guess that by this point you have instinctively considered the classic argument, “Since we have been communicating through social media, our face-to-face social skills have deteriorated.” Why, thank you for sharing your thoughts, but I beg to differ.
I get it.
Boys ask girls out through texts instead of waiting for them at their lockers to pop the question.
But does it really make a difference?
It’s easier to communicate through social media and texting sometimes, though people are still as diplomatic as they ever were when it comes to the important things. Business executives can still make a deal, the President can still deliver the State of the Union, and job-seekers can still ace interviews. Even though people resort to texting and using social media because it’s an easier option than face-to-face interactions in particular instances, they are still physically able to take the other route.
However, the new forms of technology allow people to communicate messages that they would not have communicated otherwise. According to a Common Sense Media report, 28% of teenagers said that social media makes them feel more outgoing. Notice how this report did not indicate teenagers feeling less social in person, but rather pointed out how teenagers feel more social through the outlet of social media.
So let’s take a look at the glass as half-full and realize that social media has not altered our communication skills, but rather given us more opportunities to communicate messages that we likely would not have had the confidence to express without social media.
Overall, social media has allowed many people to both communicate with new people and stay in communication with familiar people. So no, it’s not making us less social. And if you are still blaming social media for your lack of a social life, you should probably start looking to other scapegoats.
After all, they don’t call it “social” media for nothin’.
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