Are We Connected?

With the explosive growth of social media and technological ease to communicate around the world, our culture as of late has prided itself on being well-connected in a variety of ways. We all certainly find ourselves in dire situations where the use of a cell phone or email has proved most handy, but what of the greater consequences stemming from our increased mechanization for communication and staying connected with one another?

Skype, Facebook, and Twitter certainly have carried some great baggage in terms of communication, especially in the world of sports, news, and popular culture. The speed of which popular news and trends circulate throughout social circles is incredible. With all of the positives from these media outlets, I feel like our current social media makeup is adversely affecting our social lives, and some. Our generation brags about how well wired we are, but are we really? If I were in college in 1985 and wanted to ask a friend in my dorm a question, I would physically walk over to his room and ask the question face to face. Today, the options of communication are extensive. Text messaging, email, tweeting, and facebooking all being common options. Given the rapidity of our communication, I feel that some of our “real-life” conversations may subconsciously mean less to us.

Have we become more socially awkward? Are we overly-dependent on technology to “ask the hard questions” for us? Isn’t is much easier to ask someone an awkward question via text or instant messenger than face to face? I think so. We are becoming increasingly dependent on technology to do things we had to do manually before. We are certainly becoming increasingly dependent socially.

I am only 23 years old, and I do not intend to sound like a wise old man, but given the extraordinary changes that we have seen technologically just in my short life alone, I honestly am disappointed in my generation’s championing of the mantra of “being well connected”. I use my Droid every day. I check my email on it, I text my friends, listen to radio stations from back home, and listen to my music library, but I always try to not let it run my life. My overarching fear isn’t that we are becoming more socially awkward (which I certainly think we are), but the fact that we are becoming so bogged down with what is happening in the palm of our hands, as opposed to the world around us. Sure, I can check any football score, political poll, or breaking news within seconds if I reach into my pocket and be “aware” of what’s going on in the world, but do I always have to be so concerned with what is going on? Not necessarily.

If you truly feel like you’re connected, put down your phone for a few days. Deactivate your Facebook or Twitter account. At the end of the day, I’m not against social media, I’m not against furthering technology, or communication. I’m just against people not looking up and noticing the beautiful world around them once in a while. It’s an empowering notion. The right question isn’t are we connected, but rather what are we connected to? Just a thought.

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