Is social media making us anti-social?

Are we becoming anti-social because of social media?

Has our society become so obsessed with social media that we are sabotaging our chances to make meaningful relationships in real life?

I think the answer is verging towards yes.

Case in point, my wife and I went to see the Beach Boys and Foster the People at Blossom Music Center in Cleveland last week. She went off to get a drink and while in line every single person had their faces glued to their smartphones updating their statuses while reading others.

Before social media, you could enjoy a sense of camaraderie with strangers because you were all there for a singular purpose — to listen and dance to music from a band you each liked. Starting conversations and making new friends while standing in lines, even if it were just for the evening, was normal.

Now, people are more comfortable talking through a third-party app than they are face-to-face. Developing relationships in real life seems much more difficult because of our obsession with social media. It’s kind of sad really.

But concerts aren’t the only place people are skewing their view of the world around them. You can see people everywhere consuming kilobytes of data – at the coffee shop; in the park; while they are driving; and even walking down the street.

We as a society are averaging nearly eight hours a month on Facebook. That’s up from the 5 hours and 46 minutes just two short years ago. Facebook is far and away the biggest time suck on the Internet.

When you account that most people don’t just have one social media account, the time using social media jumps even higher. The average person spends 89 minutes on Pinterest, 89 minutes on Tumblr, 21 minutes on Twitter and 17 minutes on LinkedIn per month. All of this doesn’t account for the added minutes spent on social media using smartphones. (The Twitter data is extremely skewed because of the large number of users who use third-party programs to manage their Twitter accounts.)

My fear is that this trend continues and further denigrates the relationships we have or could have as people constantly check their phones for the latest status update, instead of having a meaningful conversation person-to-person.

Social media is becoming an addiction. An addiction to data and information. An addiction to technology. An addiction to social acceptance from 10,000 miles away. Some of us are in need of a serious intervention and the steps to quell the addiction.

There needs to be a balance. It all starts with turning off the computer and setting your phone aside. Find the unique and experience it. But make sure to do it with the people you enjoy spending time with and love.

This is especially important for those of us who make our livings using social media. Spending as much time as we do on social media is not good for our real life relationships.

We need to make it a point to unplug; even if it’s just for a few hours to focus on the real things that matter.

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