Is it Time we Deactivated Our Social Media Accounts?
This question will elicit a very tough debate especially from lovers of social media. I use social media. That will be the first point many people will use in their argument against me. I just shared this article through WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr and Muckrack. I can’t deny that fact. I am communicating to a far larger audience out there. As far as the whole world.
When I decided to explore this area of social media, I had communication in mind. To be a little bit more specific, I had interpersonal relationships in mind. I will surprise you that most of the time my website shares the articles automatically through algorithms best understood by the computer. The bulk of sharing I do at personal level is usually very little.
But then I think of the little sharing I do with select friends, and that triggers this discussion. Am I trying to override the need for face to face communication? I mean should we have met and have this discussions at personal level and then we can share with the rest of the world with whom we may not be able to meet physically.
Over the last couple of weeks I have carefully studied my communication patterns and I realized it is wanting. Incidentally, I saw a writing somewhere and thought I could connect with the young guy who wrote the words. It read, “I am the guy who stares at you. The guy who never said he likes you and attracted to you. I don’t have the balls to ask you out. But I’ll make you feel awkward with a love poem.” It kept me thinking about this, and your guess is fine, millennial guy.
And the first thing that came to my mind is the aspect of courage and confidence. It is getting eroded the more and more we bury our heads in our phones (social media). Imagine communicating the simplest of all things even while within the same room through the same platform; phones and social media. This guy can’t face a lady face to face but he can do a lovely piece of poem which he will end up sharing via email, WhatsApp or even Telegram. And then communication is done.
Later on, this same person as a man with some other young millennial lady will be talking using WhatsApp while in the same house. A while ago it was the child who was used as a messenger. Today our phones and hands do the talking. I am wondering when we can learn to argue face to face and still enjoy good personal relationships.
Surrendering our power to social media apps which never have the end in mind subjects us to a very dangerous path that can spiral us out of proportion. I can authoritatively state that over 80 percent of the young people today, I included, can die if they were separated with their smart phones and personal computers for just a month or even a week.
I am a frequent visitor at the Embassy of the United States in Gigiri. One of the rules when visiting that place as a visitor or when going to use the Library is that you switch off your phones and leave them at the gate. It is funny for me to hear young people again and again complain tirelessly of feeling stripped especially when they are first time visitors in that place. I then wonder when they get to spend time together with other people and have meaningful conversations with their phones aside.
When I embarked on a small study on my use of the social media for the last couple of weeks, I realized I can do away with them and still be okay. It has been over a year since I bade bye to Telegram. Nothing has changed. Nowadays I visit my twitter and LinkedIn account once in a while. Sometimes even once in two weeks. I realized too that that one moment is enough.
On the other hand, I decided to frequently check my WhatsApp, Facebook and Email accounts as often as possible. I thought those are the most important platforms for me for now. Surprisingly enough, it has come to my knowledge that I could be closing potential opportunities to build strong bonds and relations on physical grounds when I use this sites. I mean that time used on these sites could have been put into constructive use by enjoying quality time with friends and family.
Perhaps I could check them once in two days or even three or better still once a week and life would still be okay. If is very urgent and important someone can call. As one study found out that by frequently being on our phones and computers, we affect our IQ. Sometimes reducing it by as much as 10%. As though that is not enough, our productivity in many areas of life especially work areas gets affected so much with the high frequency of phones use, and most of the time it is on social media.
Study those people who spend lots of time on their phones and computers especially on social media in your work areas and you will certainly see how highly unproductive they are. It is no wonder we wear out too fast even without doing any much work.
My greatest worry is the amount of time this social media takes from us. Time we are supposed to spend together with our families, that special someone, work mates and friends to build strong bonds. We just grow old too fast and realize we never put life into our lives too late.
I have resolved to start having a lot of face to face communications. Those physical connections are what I need and value. Spending time together and putting our energies into productive use. The stories to do with online superficial communications should be a thing of the past. If they should be necessary. Let them be minimal and only supplement the greater interpersonal relationships.
If I write you a poem, like the young man who wrote those words I quoted a while ago, of course it will be out of my love of the pen. Besides sending it to you, ensure I read it to you face to face irrespective of who you are to me; family and friends alike.
Dag Hammarskjold, a former Secretary General of the United Nations said, “It is nobler to give yourself completely to one individual than to labor diligently for the salvation of the masses.” Simple. It begins with effective personal relationships before going out to the social media masses. Always remember this.
So whether it means deleting, deactivating or minimizing our social media use and giving more time for physical interpersonal interactions, it is for us to choose. What do you think?
Send your insights and comments to me and lets us explore this area.
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