Social Media

Are We Creating a Socially Inept Generation?

February 27, 2012
Left-out

 

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I’ve spent the last few months “cleaning up” my Facebook account, deleting about 100 people. Initially I was going to use my girlfriend’s approach and only keep people whose phone numbers I own, but I soon realized I have a few travel-related contacts  that I enjoy getting updates from.

I also realized I was connected to people I was never truly friends with (high school anyone?), who I’ve never once communicated with via Facebook, or who I’d rather connect with via LinkedIn for professional communication.

I sent personal messages to everyone I removed and included my email address and phone number as preferred ways to stay in touch. Surprisingly, when I told close friends and colleagues I was focusing my “social” energy elsewhere, the response I received was “Me too!” or “I’d love to quit Facebook, but I can’t.”

Don’t get me wrong. I think there’s great value in social networking . I personally love connecting with brands online.

The neat thing about Facebook is it allows you to stay in touch very easily with close friends and acquaintances, but it also keeps you close to people you might not be as connected to in real life.

I recently read a report by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, Washington D.C. that explored how the use of social networks relates to trust, tolerance and community engagement.

Findings | Facebook on an average day:

  • 15% of users update their own status
  • 22% comment on another post or status
  • 20% comment on another user’s photo
  • 26% “Like” other user’s content
  • 10% send a private message

Another interesting factoid is that frequent Facebook users tend to be more trusting of other people.

I suppose if you’re open to sharing your life online, you’re generally more trusting than the average yahoo. 

Also, the number of people using social networking sites has doubled since 2008. 

Does this mean we’re more socially connected?

I believe we are definitely more connected – I get most of my news updates via Facebook and Twitter  – but socially, I’m hesitant to agree.

Most of us have become so dependent on social updates that we can’t remember the last time we actually picked up the phone to catch up with a friend or sent a card… just because.

As I watch my 2.5 year old daughter navigate my iPhone without any issue, I worry that her generation may never learn how to live without technology nor learn proper social etiquette, like sending a hand-written thank you card or the importance of eye contact.

Are we creating a socially inept society? Is technology bringing us closer or pushing us further apart?

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11 Comments

  • Reply Kristen Power February 27, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    I think that technology is opening doors to new opportunities, but also closing others on manners and intimacy. I am connected with many people via Facebook and enjoy seeing what they’re doing, but my true friendships/relationships are all offline. They’re with people I call or visit with in person. Of course, until about six years ago that was they way all of my “friendships” were conducted. For new generations who aren’t “forced” to communicate in person, I believe the art of in-person communication is being lost, and with it many of the social nuances and politeness. Then again, haven’t we dropped some of the social practices of our parents and grandparents as well?

    • Reply Vanessa February 27, 2012 at 10:44 pm

      Awesome feedback, Kristen.

      I agree that some practices we are dropping as evolve and adapt to new technologies/opportunities, but I find that I have to SCHEDULE phone calls, dinner dates, etc. to make sure I’m still engaging socially in person. Understandably, it’s a greater effort to visit in person than popping online to send someone a message.

      Thanks for taking time to comment!

  • Reply Haydee February 27, 2012 at 10:59 pm

    I was thinking the other day about the consequences of depending on social media and internet. Down the road I imagine people staying away from person-to-person communication. I already prefer to make reservations over the internet rather than wanting to speak with an agent.

    I think it will be up to us parents to help our children to value personal communication…they will need it very much.

    • Reply Vanessa February 28, 2012 at 7:32 pm

      I think it’s incredibly convenient to have access to such things, i.e. online reservations, bill pay, text messages, etc.
      But yes, I do think it’s up to us as parents to teach our children the value of in-person relationships and communication.

  • Reply anna March 5, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    This is a great post and I truly believe that it needs to be brought up over and over again! It’s so important! I absolutely think that all of this social media is good- but like anything, you can’t take it too far, and so many do- including myself. I am a person who has always always had an aversion to talking on the phone (I am not your average female in that way) and so social media has really not been a good thing for me in that sense. I always message or email before I call. Calling has always been my last case scenario and rather than pushing me to take my fear of the phone head on, it lets me fall further into a hole with my phone-bia. ha ha

    BUT, it’s my fault. I realize that. You can’t stop progress. Technology is going to get better and better and more efficient and it is up to me to have the self control and self awareness to know what is and what isn’t best for me. I would close my FB account in a second if i didn’t do business via it.

    GREAT post, Vanessa!

    • Reply Vanessa March 6, 2012 at 7:31 am

      Thanks for your feedback, Anna!

      There are great pros and cons to using social media to stay in touch. I’m grateful I’ve met some awesome gals via social media, including you!
      And the fact that we’ve taken our friendship into the real world is pretty awesome :)

      I think so long as we remember to turn everything off once in a while to truly connect with people, we’ll be okay.

  • Reply David March 29, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    Indeed, social incompetence is a serious consequence of overreliance on or compulsiveness to socialize via social networking. I have personally met some who were excessively unpleasant to associate with. Parocial thinking is another result of socail networking
    you just cant be convinced enough just by texting
    unless you are a skillful writer

    • Reply Vanessa March 29, 2012 at 7:42 pm

      Thanks for your insight, David.

      There are certainly pros and cons to social networking. What do you use it for?

  • Reply David March 29, 2012 at 7:45 pm

    well I certainly dont use it for business
    primarily to exchange private messages with couple of online friends who I do really feel concerned about
    which is normal and strange
    Normal – it is human nature to care about others
    Strange – I have never met these people

    • Reply Vanessa April 1, 2012 at 6:06 am

      Isn’t it amazing, David, how we can connect with complete strangers online?
      I’ve actually made a few friends that way.
      I also see great value in using social media for business – but completely agree we should never forget how to socialize in person.
      Thanks for your feedback!

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