When connected but distracted...
We can't deny technology makes our world seemingly without borders. We have multiple means to connect to family, friends, and even strangers over long distances. Technology is a blessing to humanity, for the most part, but sometimes it brings paradox. Although technology works to make our lives and it makes us more connected than ever, we can't deny that sometimes it feels aren't.
One of the biggest paradoxes in our lives is that we are superconnected through social media, but we are growing estranged from one another. How is it even conceivable? Social media brings our loved ones from all around the world closer together. Technology is arguably good for humanity, but we must not drown ourselves with it and forget that we need to interact beyond our social media.
Looking around in a coffee shop, a resto, or a mall food court, we could notice that a group of friends sat together, facing each other but not talking. They are busy with their social media even the moment is to cherish the moment by engaging with others. They appear to have just plugged in and forgotten they had actual friends. Some couples are ostensibly in love with one another. But they choose to hold hands with their smartphones.
Isn't that strange? It is becoming our culture and norm to date. Maybe, it is an irony in our generation. We talk a lot in our social chatbox but lip tied in person. We can quickly connect to thousands of people, even over miles away, on social media but can't even have an undistracted conversation in person. We are getting detached from the people surrounding us. We are no longer able to have genuine conversations. We are superconnected but too distracted.
While our social media skills levels up, most of us fail with our social skills. Some people are stuck in silence in person and just smiling. But when we see their social and chatboxes, they are too engaging with others and even can write novels and stories with friends or anyone in their chat. Our social media allow us to talk despite in person we are the shy type. When we communicate, we don't just use words but also pictures and emojis. But everything can be superficial as to genuine deep conversations and interactions.
In real life, we express our opinions and our feelings through body language and facial expressions. Social can only allow it in video calls, but not body language. Isn't it true that when we're very close to someone, we merely look at each other, smile, and we already know what they're saying? If we see our mates have drooping shoulders and are quieter, we can infer that they have a problem or are going through something.
When we have more attention to learning social media skills than social skills, we can't interpret body language and facial expressions. Our social media bliss us to connect with more people, but we can't know what is behind the scene. Sometimes what we see in social media isn't always a depiction of who we are in real life. More social media friends don't mean more real friends.
Technology enables us to know more people, but having genuine relationships among those people is another story. Don't get me wrong. I don't say that we can't have meaningful interactions or relationships with people online. I had met genuine people online. What I am saying is there are social media personalities of fictitious nature. Some people go beyond their persona to have a social media persona. Some change their look, and some just posers or catfishing to get some attention. We can be kind in real life, yet harsh, cheap, and furious persona in social media. Or perhaps not at all.
Visual clues are lacking in our social media interaction. Sometimes the fake feeling of distance and anonymity can lead to us speaking and doing things we would never do in person. Sometimes we tend to display a persona to mask what we don't have in real life. We can't deny that. Looking at our social media feeds, we can see posts that always go to what is trending. Some caught to be faking it. It is a characteristic of our humanity to seek approval. But ourselves is better than being on-trend.
Technology helps us progress and become more connected, but we succumb to the illusion of connectivity. Some are trying to connect to more people online as if it is a race to reach more followers o have maxed out the friend list. A real relationship doesn't happen with a click of a button. It goes beyond what is in our social media. Genuine deep conversations are in person and not on lengthy chats, but not in totality. As I have said, we can have a good and deep conversation from social media as well.
Social media has neither diminished our ability to connect nor has it altered our concept of what it means to be a friend. What I am sharing is that social media distract us from our real-world conversations and relationships. Nonetheless, social media enables us to connect and maintain connections with people dear to our hearts. It can strengthen our relationships with others. Most social media relationships are either carried over from our real existing places or in reverse.
Eye contact is vital in our interactions. It activates the social networks in our brains, allowing us to sustain a high quality of interactions we require. The next time we meet our family and friends over dinner or on occasions. Maybe, we can put our phones on the side and have a conversation and enjoy the moment. A good laugh from our chats can bring a pleasant feeling, but a deep conversation in person can bring bliss.
A pause from social media when it matters most is not abandoning social media. We should use social media and technology to strengthen our connection to others and build lasting relationships rather than drown ourselves in a relationship that only exists in chat boxes. We should not trap ourselves in the paradox of being superconnected but distracted.
All digital illustrations is created by the author.
American Psychological Association. "Dealing with digital distraction: Being ever-connected comes at a cost, studies find.", ScienceDaily.
Wu et. al., Distraction or Connection? An Investigation of Social Media Use at Work, Proceedings of the 51st Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences