Some people close to me joke that I am not a “people person”. However, truth be told, I much prefer to be in real live social situations with actual human beings than living in the social media space that has thrived recently. I actually am a people person, I just don’t like big crowds of people. It’s an “exit” fear or something. I was never on MySpace, I have only been on FaceBook for a couple of years, and Twitter for just over a year really. I’ve always been on E-Mail and some form of message boards since I had my first modem with AOL and a Commodore 128. Recently though I am starting to think that what makes us human in nature is being destroyed the more we turn to social media, texting, or other forms of non-personal communication.
Think about it for a moment. When was the last time you got a phone call instead of an email or instant message to “Chat”? Then think back 10 years and how much more often did your phone ring with a voice on the other end instead of that E-Mail or instant message of today? I would say nine times out of ten, I get an E-Mail, instant message, or other medium from not only friends and family, but also co-workers. We’ve lost touch with each other on a personal level. Even working from home more than ever the one thing I miss is that walk to the Cafe for a drink, or a mid day break with a friend to talk about nothing. The best and worst thing to happen to remote workers has been the increased use of social medium.
I believe it affects us at home. The lack of social interaction I know has made me personally even less “nice” to my own family sometimes. Our tones change when we type instead of talk. We end up treating our own family like another faceless person on the other end of a tweet. It is always easier to be a jerk in writing when not looking someone in the eye than sitting in front of them. We are all guilty of that, even myself, and I am not afraid to admit it or am I proud of it.
I think to some very recent events within the past month, and I realize context is completely lost in 140 characters or on a social media thread. People that don’t know you, or of the back story itself don’t understand the context. There is never a direct reply to any single message sent and nobody is going to search out the rest of the hidden thread to understand what one person meant. They are going to take the one message they saw without context, and form opinions of the parties without even knowing them.
As this technology has perpetuated, and company’s have made millions, are they doing it at the possible demise of the Human Condition? We will seemingly continue to get nastier in our various typed tones to each other. Social media “Bullying” will continue to fester to a point beyond what we have seen. We will continue to turn more away from talking to each other to sending instant messages and E-Mails. We see “Twitter Wars” on a regular basis on topics where there are people attacking each other’s opinions instead of listening to each other’s thoughts.
Don’t get me wrong, I do think social medium has done wonders for small business and people trying to reach beyond the traditional geographical limitations. My wife and I both see that benefit daily with her company as well as my other side projects around Virtual Fitness. Those are different uses of the medium however to drive a reach to people you otherwise would not meet.
Where I am going with this isn’t simply just a rant on a rainy Saturday morning. The last few weeks in particular have had some incidents that affected me personally and I tend to reflect on those kinds of things. I simply woke up with some thoughts in my head about this topic. I am starting to wonder just how bad this will get as more and more of us turn inward to social media instead of outward to being human to one another. I still struggle with the diplomacy in E-Mail and other mediums myself. I cannot count the times I have had my own words spun the wrong way, mis-interpreted, or seen as argumentative. Was that my intent? I don’t think so, but maybe sub-consciously it was. Maybe I was trying to be less human because it was E-Mail or other non verbal medium. Would I have that same kind of tone in person with the same people? Maybe……but maybe not.
I’ve said my peace for the day, I obviously have some reflection of my own to do and the thoughts are now out of my head. There is a part of me that wonders if I should even be on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, even this very blog sometimes. After all, you will never please everyone, but that’s okay. We are all entitled to our opinions without being told they are incorrect. This is precisely why I am selective on who is on certain streams or on various lists. We just don’t have to be nasty to each other when the only thing the seems to bring us together is the very social medium that is making us less human. It almost seems like a paradox…..or better yet…..a self fulfilling prophecy. I personally would always enjoy talking to anymore more than texting or typing instant messages.