from an expert in the field:
ndija C. M. Anderson is a lawyer practising in Toronto. See her blog
AS SOMEONE WHO has travelled extensively, with friends around the
globe, I certainly appreciate how social media allows us to connect
quickly, cheaply and with fewer obstacles—namely, distance. However,
while social media has its benefits, I believe it also has negative effects on
the ways in which we relate to each other.
● We are spending more time on Facebook (and other forms of social
media) than on face time with each other. When was the last time you
picked up the phone to talk to a friend or a relative that you haven’t seen in a while—or, better
yet, met up with him or her for coffee, lunch or dinner? We’ve made our lives so busy that we
don’t take (or make) the time to socialize with our loved ones. Why call or meet up when you
can send them a text or post a message on their Facebook wall? The problem with replacing
face or even phone time with social media communication is that social media doesn’t allow
you to see body language, read facial expressions or hear intonation, which are important cues.
Percentage reflects votes received
by Sept. 21, 2012. Results
may reflect Debate being
picked up by blogs.
● We are confusing quantity of interaction with quality of interaction. People feel that the
more contacts they have in their social media networks, the more popular they are, and people
think that the number of posts, comments or messages they receive from someone reflects that
person’s level of concern or interest in their lives—neither of which is necessarily true. Social
media messages are not the equivalent of real conversation.
● We are creating superficial relationships rather than relationships of substance. How
many people on your Facebook list would you actually confide in about a very personal issue?
For those who primarily use Facebook for networking purposes, this point may not pertain to
you. But we all know people who essentially use Facebook as their confidant, therapist and life
coach, which could be problematic since a Facebook “friend” may not be a friend in actuality:
The only things that Facebook friends “know” about you is what you put on your profile. Real
friendships are built on shared life experiences, not status updates.
In sum, while social media has allowed for more frequent and easier communication, ironically, its use also seems to encourage what could be characterized as antisocial behaviour. I
would therefore argue that social media helps us to create more connections, but not necessarily
better or deeper relationships. C
from an expert in the field:
Lawrence Nyveen ( http://101squadron.com/blog.html) teaches
computer-based journalism, social media and technology at
Concordia University, Montreal.
TOMORROW, I’M GOING to a party my friend Alex is throwing for local
writers. Alex didn’t mail invitations. He didn’t call. He created a Facebook
page for the event and invited friends, acquaintances and industry contacts.
Although he invited me through online social media, Alex is a real-life
friend. He and his family came over for a barbecue last week. We first met
years ago, after he advertised for a writing assistant on his blog.
More than half of all Canadians, 18 million of us, have a Facebook account. It’s easy to keep
your friends and contacts informed of your goings-on with social media, whether through
Social media networks don’t replace face-to-face interactions; they enhance them. You can
stay in touch with old friends no matter how far apart you now live. When travels bring you
near each other, there’s less awkwardness in getting together after many years’ separation.
Closer to home, social media can help you find kindred spirits. Are you a knitter? Look
online for a local knitting group to share your passion. A random Web search for knitters in
Winnipeg turns up two events listed at Meetup: the Winnipeg Crafters Care Meetup Group and
the less traditionally named Drop-Stitch and Bitch. Perhaps every Winnipeg knitter already
knows about both, but I suspect not.
My family has taken part in pillow-fight flash mobs and geeky gaming/crafting sessions that
we heard about online and would have missed otherwise. Without social media, an event with
no advertising budget would have to rely on word of mouth or public posters. You’re not going
to get a hundred people to show up with pillows that way.
Of course it’s possible to become addicted to social media at the cost of real-life interaction,
but don’t blame the tools. The integration of social media is not necessarily more detrimental to
social interaction than was the introduction of the telephone. It’s a mode of communication
made more powerful by the ability to reach many people at once and to share multimedia with
them. It promotes rather than replaces in-person relationships.
I’ll have to wrap this up now. I’m off to play flag football in a league I discovered through
Club Montreal Sport & Social, which I found on Facebook. C
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