Observation Spot: The Blessing and Curse of Unsocial Social Media

The intention of my blog is for showcasing my creative writing (thank you life, for getting in the way), but I also like to use it to record observations of daily life.  So, this collection of thoughts has been trundling around my head for a little while, so it seemed only polite to put pen to paper (or rather, fingers to keyboard if we wish to be accurate).

What do I wish to cast my observations on today?  Namely, the wonder of “modern technology” and all that it brings; digital storage, social networking, the ability to make our lives easier in this fast-paced world.  Its also the blessing and the curse of our generation, I would be so bold to say.

It has its great points, and its not-so-great points.  I will focus on its impact on a day-to-day civilian like myself, as opposed to some technological genius.  So, where to begin?

Well, let’s start with something good, a “blessing”.  I actually do love the digital age; gone are the days where I carried around a big bunch of CDs and a bulky CD changer in the back of my car.  Now, my favourite music can be played in my car as MP3′s through a very clever little USB storage stick plugged into the front of the CD player.  As a person who hates unnecessary clutter, this to me is wonderful.  However, the same cannot be said of books…I’m still old-school and refusing to join this Kindle movement.  Yes, its usefulness runs parallel with my music-on-a-stick, but there’s just something about holding a book in your hands and feeling the paper under your fingertips.  Still, digital media…pretty awesome, no?

Next; Facebook.  I love to hate Facebook.  I love the way Facebook has made it a whole lot easier to keep in touch with distant friends.  I live in the East of England (Norfolk to be precise), and have two extremely awesome friends who live up in bonnie Scotland, whom I miss very much.  With Facebook, I can easily see what they’ve been up to, share photos with them and generally keep up to date in what’s going on in their lives and vice versa.  At the same time, I miss a good old phone call and in some aspects I would much rather hear their friendly voices!  Of course, with the wonders of technology, when the chance to visit them arises, I fly to Edinburgh from my local airport to be in Scotland in a mere hour – beats 9+ hours of solo travelling in a car, doesn’t it?

However, coming back to Facebook, I hate the way its killing social interactions.  That’s the curse.  I have noticed it with the younger folk especially (I am in my late twenties now, and consider myself as “on the cusp” of this social media malarky).  I could be walking down the street, sitting in the dentist waiting room, enjoying the fresh air of the local park, and I could guarantee you that every other person will be plastered to their phone.  It’s quite sad, really.  What happened to smelling the fresh air, listening to the birds sing, really noticing the warmth of the sun on your face?  To be honest, I’d rather be looking around and being aware as opposed to gluing my eyes to a bloody phone or sliding my fingers around a touch screen.  There’s a beautiful world out there, and personally I’d rather meet my friends for a cuppa instead of “tweeting” them or “WhatsApp’ing” them.  In addition, a lot of folks seem to comment on how people put “what they had for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner and tea” on their social media accounts…true, somewhat.  I know someone who, like a celebrity, documents practically every movement of their life (but luckily not their bowel movements, as that would be way too much).

As for Twitter and Snapchat…I’m not even going to go there.  Sure, they have their uses, but they are not for me.  Facebook is quite enough, thank you!

Of course, I can’t make such bold statements without having experienced unsocial social media myself.  Here’s a couple of examples for you.  How about organising a meal with several friends you have not seen in a while?  You pop to the toilet, come back and instead of finding your friends chit-chattering with one another, you find them swiping away at their phones and thus ignoring each other!  How about admonishing them, only to be given death-glares in the same calibre as if you had suggested stripping off and running round the restaurant naked?

Or, how about going to a social gathering to see an old friend that you haven’t caught up with for a while.  How about walking through the door, going to greet them but finding they don’t have the common courtesy to even look at you until they finish tapping out a message on their phone?  Better still, instead of a social gathering, its a “let’s be unsocial at the social-gathering by social-networking on our phones instead of actually speaking to each other!”

Enough to make one’s blood boil, especially so in these days when you get older, work and life pressures grow in abundance, and you just never seem to get the time to have a good old-fashioned catch up with your pals.

Luckily, some of us still have what I would call old-fashioned values.  Yes, I own an Android smartphone, its an Xperia Z1 Compact if you must know.  It fetches my emails for me, allows me to keep on top of my eBay sales on the go, hell, I can even play my MP3′s on it or have a little digital shopping list.  However, if I am at the dinner table or in good company, it stays firmly in my pocket.  No, I don’t even have cheeky downward glances at it in my pocket, like I see so many people do.  If I am with company, I am there to talk to that person.  I don’t want to ignore them in favour of tapping out a stupid status on my Facebook.  That crap can wait – social interactions are precious, and it seems that now it is becoming the norm to close yourself away from the world to happily type and swipe at a touch-screen.

Regardless, social networking is here to stay.  Technology is here to stay.  You can’t stop progress.  However, I hope there are others out there like me.  Others who still realise how important it is to have your friends there in front of you, to talk to, to adventure with, instead of living a little social fantasy via some network site.  Resist the masses – stay true to your very fibre as a human being, to enjoy social interactions the way Mother Nature intended – face to face!

I can almost hear myself saying, “I miss the good old days!”  Almost.

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