by Ben Aisbitt
Everyone wants to feel connected, in an age where we are ruled by our smartphones, laptops and tablets it’s undeniable that we feel more connected than ever before and we, as human beings, have an inherent need to be connected. Facebook, twitter and instagram are all social networks that we use to stay connected, whether you’re updating your latest profile picture on facebook, or retweeting your favourite celebrities latest upload we all feel connected via the same mediums (social media). However, with this new means of being connected with your friends, family and peers, it’s ironic to think we are as disconnected from one another as ever before. Everyone would rather interact via social media through their ipads, imacs and iphones but face-to-face interactions are now foreign to many people, particularly amongst children and adolescents. Feeling connected gives people the feeling of approval and for others gives them the feeling of social power and authority.
Losing touch – The frightening prospect of face-to-face interaction
Staying connected is no longer meeting up for drinks or catching up over lunch. We have switched to connecting via the world wide web, why…? ell to put it simply, using the internet as a means of social interaction is easier, faster, more efficient and convenient for us. We are beginning to interact less with one another, but at the same time interaction is higher than ever. Over 40% of adults and 51% said that they would rather communicate using a form of instant messaging (Facebook messenger, text message, email etc.) rather than having a face-to-face conversation with somebody, including their friends (Attentiv.com, 2016) . For many people, they find face to face interactions intrusive and confronting as well as being somewhat presumptuous. Developmental psychologists studying the impact of social media on humans are particularly worried with the younger generation of social media users. Not just because children are such promiscuous users of technology but because their interpersonal skills – such as they are – have not yet fully developed. When today’s adults first got there hands on a mobile phone, they had already developed a set of fixed social quantities, and while their ability to have a face to face conversation may have eroded over the years, it is pretty well locked in (Kluger, 2016).
Social media fact!
Did you know that 24% of people have missed witnessing important life moments because they were too busy trying to write about them on their social media networks…whilst they were taking place? Some of these include weddings, graduations and even child births.
The need to belong
People have a basic psychological need to feel closely connected to others, having a caring, affectionate bond or relationship is a major part of human behaviour (Leary, 2016). Some people use social media as a means of approval. For some, receiving an absurd number of likes on your latest profile picture is satisfying and for others they want to share with you their latest meal via instagram or flaunt their new relationship on facebook. You may ask yourself why, but it is known as the need to belong. The need to belong is an intrinsic motivation to affiliate with others and be socially accepted (Cherry, 2016). This need can make people present themselves in a particular way in order to belong to a specific social group. In terms of social media, the thoughts and images people post may be a means of being accepted. For example, somebody may adopt the dress sense and mannerisms of other members of a social group to gain acceptance. In many cases, the need to belong to certain social groups results from sharing some point of commonality.
Really your friends? – Popularity contest
We have all at one point or another been scrolling through our facebook newsfeed and seen a status from someone and thought ‘Do I even know this person?’ but still we dismiss the thought and continue to scroll aimlessly past them. “Friendships, in particular, have a natural decay rate in the absence of contact, and social media may well function to slow down the rate of decay. However, that alone may not be sufficient to prevent friendships eventually dying naturally if they are not occasionally reinforced by face-to-face interaction.” (Batliwala, 2016). Since when has having an obscene number of facebook friends really gotten to the point where we befriend people we know little-to-nothing about, including their identity? The whole concept of social media is to inform, connect, socialise and entertain its users. However what social media has become, is a popularity contest. A form of dominance and way for people to feel like they’re important and a need for approval (Advanced life skills, 2016). The average facebook user knows 73.2% of their friends on facebook (LAUNCH, 2016)
Graph: Percentage of friends known, by user age and gender
It’s funny how we can be so with honest and connected with something as intimate like the internet but not even know who the people are seeing our photos, memories and opinions.
In a world dominated by technology, social networks aren’t going anywhere, they offer faster, more reliable, more convenient sources of communication and information than anything we have ever embraced. However the most important thing with social media is that you’re able to control and manage it. Understand it and be able to prioritise it, specifically your time. We now communicate differently and we have adapted to these changes overtime, we constantly feel the need to fit in amongst our ‘friends’ and the risk of losing touch with one another (whilst still being connected) is imminent. The truth is it cannot ever replace face-to-face interactions as we are able to express ourselves in ways not feasible through social media, and that is with real feelings, not emojis!
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Attentiv. (2016). We just don’t speak anymore. But we’re “talking” more than ever. – Attentiv. [online] Available at: http://attentiv.com/we-dont-speak/ [Accessed 16 Nov. 2016].
Batliwala, A. (2016). Most of your Facebook friends aren’t real. [online] The Age. Available at: http://www.theage.com.au/lifestyle/life/most-of-your-facebook-friends-arent-real-20160125-gmdcht.html [Accessed 16 Nov. 2016].
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Kluger, J. (2016). We Never Talk Anymore: The Problem with Text Messaging | TIME.com. [online] TIME.com. Available at: http://techland.time.com/2012/08/16/we-never-talk-anymore-the-problem-with-text-messaging/ [Accessed 16 Nov. 2016].
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Leary, M. (2016). The “Need to Belong” – Part of What Makes Us Human – | – Science of Relationships. [online] Scienceofrelationships.com. Available at: http://www.scienceofrelationships.com/home/2012/4/16/the-need-to-belong-part-of-what-makes-us-human.html [Accessed 16 Nov. 2016].