I am of a different perspective. There are several papers written on utopian views on social media. I account on a dystopian view on this topic. Social media has indeed revolutionized how people interact and communicate with one another. Apart from positive views, how often have you thought of the negativity social media platforms have impacted in social life and communication?
What happen to traditional ways of communicating with others? What happened to a sense of expressing oneself? What happened to sitting around the dinner table to have interpersonal communication with loved ones?
According to Shapshak (2009:4), “Social media” is about individual sharing content…for example blogs carrying articles, insights and news from amateur and professional writers’ alike, video-sharing sites such as YouTube and Zoopy and photo-sharing sites like Flickr”. Social networking also form part of social media, referred to as sites which are about connecting people rather than about sharing content. Social media are now a hybrid, both enabling users to connect with people and sharing content on the same platform such as Facebook and Twitter.
On the first question, I believe social media has vastly brought about some sort of blindness on really what such sites are impacting in so many humans. The joy of communicating, making new friends, re-uniting with long time relatives and friends are not only benefits but hinders ‘here and now relationships’. We have resorted to finding life in the virtual world, abandoning our mutual relationships and being passive communicators. This then answers the second question. Our communicating is dissipating into thin air, leaving users heavily relying on social media. The sociality of these types of media seem social within themselves but one of the realities is that the term ‘social media’ is ironical. One of the major reasons is I say so is because we have trusted unknown faces when engaging daily online, falling to maintain and balance our daily relationship, finding seemly better voices online and communicating less with people we reside with. Young people daily spend more hours online, calling acquaintances friends, unable to put their ‘smart phones’ down, doing chose, studying, shopping and doing everything in between day and night disengaging with those who haven’t not found their virtual voices and those who rather prefer to communicate traditionally. Even when in groups, around one another, gaze at the screens of their gadget belittling human contact in the physical. Is this what we call social? Not according to me. I find it boldly anti-social. It is anti-social because we no longer participate, viewing traditional communication barbaric, not expressing ourselves, and depending on such platforms when seeking undivided attention and erroneously using social media when caught up in emotional times. Using it as a de-stressor.
Only when we have think social media are social, the elements of embracing of collective socializing is fading away. Chatting in person has lost meaning. Writing on paper in a form of letters, is now regarded stupid, time wasting, redundant. Expressing ourselves is disappearing. We no longer make friends, we desperately search for friends. We see no need to visit but to see the need to text sending virtual hugs and kisses. We become rude around others, pressing, gazing at screens, laughing, smiling but not with those around you but kilometers away from you. I don’t see being social in all this. This is a universal crisis, a debility compromising the physical touch and false.