Social Media and Face to Face Communication

In an age where your Facebook page is where to find “you” and your Twitter feed represents your thoughts, feelings, interests, and even your best news source, how can millennials even rationalize sending a letter or having a private face-to-face conversation?

Even when people are physically in the same room as one another, they are updating their status, following someone on twitter, texting, checking their email, googling something someone just said, looking up a video on YouTube, posting a picture they just took – all in between sentences. I have seen this first hand on multiple occasions. I was once eating at a fast food restaurant, when I noticed a group of teenagers sitting across from me, and every single one of them were sitting there texting each other. It blew my mind!

There is never a moment we are not entertained. We are texting when we should be having one-on-one conversations. Relationships are formed in the social media world without ever physically meeting. Can these distractions ever be effectively muted so as to allow for reflection, reading, or even learning? This multimedia overload is completely redefining human interaction. Replacing in-person conversations with text, email, and social media may completely change the way we interact and understand one another. This constant multitasking and informational overload may also have serious implications on education, including verbal and writing skills in the coming generations.

Over 250 million Americans are currently on Facebook. A study in the journal New Media & Society looks at how young people use social networking to define themselves and their interactions. The “older” millennials tend to have social networking pages that are somewhat mild and centered on their connections with other people, authentic relationships they have made in the “real” world. In contrast, young teenagers seem to be using these sites to create dramatic, creative, and sometimes fantastical identities; and both groups, seem to have no sense of privacy or shame when it comes to their internet identities, almost relishing in whatever activity contains “shock value.”

The cyber bullying phenomenon as well as YouTube videos made famous by millions of “dislikes” gives rise to some serious questions. Questions such as the negative impact of relationships and communications, as well as identities, created through these mediums. The social media user feels somewhat “removed,” and thus freer to engage in risky and negative behavior. The increasing communication through technology mediums rather than face-to-face conversations is also reflected in the young adults “texting” obsession.