On Cross Country Checkup: social media
Facebook and Twitter have become minute by minute communication tools for millions of people. Some are concerned that all that screen-time is diminishing the quality of real face to face contact.
What do you think? Is social media making us anti-social?
With guest host Andrew Nichols.
While there is a purpose for social media, there is a time and a place for its use!
On a patio at noon today, I saw a family of four busy "communicating" and not one word was uttered. Mom was reading a paperback book, Dad was on a device and both school-age children were busy on their devices playing games. Around them, there was lots going on - people riding bikes (Sunday Bike Days), boats going by, the bridge been raised, etc., lots of opportunity for wonderful observations and conversations, on a beautiful sunny day in the nation's capital. It was sad. There was a missed opportunity for a family to interact with each other and those around them.
If you understood that these media are plural, and not singular, you would stop the error of totalizing these media into one. It is time the CBC led the way out of this singularity trap, because it leads to a monolithic view of electronic media - as if all of them are one, unidirectional, and monolithic.
There are clearly ways that a stable medium like e-mail can be very social, enhancing the social relationships (including face-to-face time) which may pre-exist, and in fact deepening them during a time of absence. My class is presently planning an intense and difficult event, one coming up very soon, they are talking back and forth on a closed e-mail-list which no one else sees. They are spread all over the city, and have some confidence in the privacy they find through. When the class is over they will have formed an understanding of making decisions together - under pressure - and they will identified potential friends and allies for the future.
Burnaby, British Columbia
I have a great deal of concern about the effects of our seeming addiction to social media. It seems to me people are forgetting how to genuinely communicate. Everything is abbreviated and immediate, often lacking thought and consideration.
People are forgetting what it means to be polite; to look at people when you're speaking to them, not to ignore them as I see so often; to converse, which means I listen and think about what you say and when you're finsished, I respond. Another aspect of this, and I see this so often with the children I teach, they literally are not able to understand visual cues and tone when speak with others. A part of this as well is the lack of accountability and responsibility people have for what they say. Things are said to people online that would never be said face to face.
I cannot believe how often I see a couple (?!) or a group of people out for a meal or a social (?!) occasion who spend the entire time on their blackberries or iPhones, rarely acknowledging the other people.
I can't believe how much of their privacy people are willing to forfeit. We used to talk about the "tyranny of the urgent". It looks to me that more and more people are submitting themselves to this tyranny. They can't bear a moment of being unplugged. Believe it or not, most things can wait and the whole realm doesn't need to know what you're doing this precise moment and vice versa. For all the "friends" people have, how many real friends are there?
All this worries me for us all.
Vancouver, British Columbia
The evolution of social media in the past few years has allowed for the ability to connect people with others who would not be able to be connected otherwise. Recent history has seen the virtues of this in the Arab world and elsewhere. The availability of these "connections" to do good for humanity and the world as a whole is a great benefit for all. Also, however in some cases, this has lead to some forms of addiction in constantly wanting to be connected with others all the time. Face to face communications will always be the most meaningful way for humans to have contact with others, but social media has enhanced the ability for people to share, communicate, voice their opinions, and to have contact with others.
Metaghan, Nova Scotia
The various forms of social media are not anti-social in and of themselves. It's only when they are used so much that face to face relationships are damaged or excluded all together.
The real problem with social media is that access to this technology costs money and to many, not a small amount of money. Some people cannot afford a computer an IPad, or a smart phone and they are therefore excluded from the benefits of social media. Poor school children cannot search for information for a school project, their parents cannot take financial advantage of discounts offered on line, banking on line and so on.
Social media creates a class system where the poor, once again, become poorer.
West Dublin, Nova Scotia
The program so far has missed a basic historical point - the first social media were letters where the whole point was that a writing the letter was in a different place than b receiving it. Look at the fad of Pen Pals where millions of people wrote letters where there was generally no expectation of meeting face to face.
The only two differences between letters and twitter are that (a) speed and (b) multiple recipients. The displacement of place is exactly the same!
Vancouver, British Columbia