Social Media Addiction

Are we becoming a society that misses out on the real world because we are so focused on the online world of social media? Here’s how I see it.

This morning, I arrived at my bank about 10 minutes before it opened. I stood in front of the bank building breathing the fresh clean autumn air and was enthralled by the sun glistening on the leaves of the three magnificent magnolia trees across the street. I turned my attention to the autumn color bursting forth from several other trees as I wondered about how they kept the entire area so pristine.  Several early morning exercise-seeking walkers and joggers greeted me with a hearty “good morning”. It was truly a magnificent morning.

A few minutes after I arrived at the bank a young man drove up in his truck. He was quite obviously also waiting for the bank to open. I noticed that he was intent on thumb typing on his smart phone. At exactly 9 am when he emerged from his truck I asked what he had been doing. He replied that he was checking his Facebook page and accessing Twitter on his smart phone.

This is the regrettable side effect of today’s technology.  While this fellow was engaged in social media on his phone, he was missing the real world and real people.

His actions are quite typical of twenty- and thirty- somethings in today’s world. At a garage sale that I held recently, I had a lot of wonderful people who were friendly and talkative, but I also had several young people who never even said hello to me because they were engaged in conversations on their cell phones. I also recently met a girl who said she went into a panic because she found herself in a line at the grocery store and was without her cell phone. She would normally check her Facebook and Twitter pages if she found herself with a few extra minutes of time. In fact, she routinely checked her Facebook and Twitter pages whenever she was stopped at a red light.

I realize that online social media is a big draw today. In fact, you can hardly be in business today if you don’t have a Facebook or Twitter account.  Where five years ago we were seeing advertising with Internet addresses everywhere, today we are seeing advertising with “See our Facebook Page” at the bottom.

Everyone is flocking to these websites where you befriend and follow people. You may know these people in real life, but more often than not, they are simply online acquaintances.  Getting to know these people and to communicate with them can be great fun. I have a ton of Facebook friends and several of them have even turned out to be friends in the real world. But when these online relationships become so important that we miss the beauty of the real world and interactions with real people, it seems that it is a case of technology gone wrong.

Every day I see teenagers so engaged with texting on their cell phones that they walk out into traffic. I see people who drive poorly because they are talking on the cell phone.  I see people in the grocery store having a conversation through their Bluetooth ear piece while ignoring the other people in the store and while actually aggravating others with their loud conversations with their invisible friends.

I love technology, but we need to control technology rather than have it control us. The use of social media can become an addiction. We need to engage in the real world. And we need to teach our children that online relationships can never replace real relationships.

Please feel free to add your comments. I’d love to know what you all think.

4 Comments

Diane Reymer 18-11-2010, 23:02

OMG! OMG! (just kidding) Sandy….could not agree with you more.

How sad that so many of us only ‘show up’ in our online ‘avatars’ instead of in person in our actual reality as who we really are instead of who we promote.

Maybe we need a National Disconnect Day whereby, we remove the middle conduit in connecting with those we care about and instead of hugging our devices, actually hug each other. (whata concept!)

Play Dates for Adults might be a start. Devices Off, Five Senses On.

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Pat Bryan 18-11-2010, 23:44

It makes me feel better that even a technology expert agrees with me that it has gotten overwhelming to the point that people can only be friends when apart or when they really don’t know each other so much of the time. Quite frankly, I find Facebook a bloody pain, would never even approach twitter, and have my cell phone set so it can’t receive or send text messages. Sadly, some of the loveliest ecards I can send are thrown out of the receiver’s mail as spam, thanks to some people who have made “you have received a card” a likely virus carrier. Fortunately I still buy many paper cards and send them the old fashioned way, via US Mail…..I hope it does not become obsolete before I’m not around to see it!

Doris Sealock 19-11-2010, 11:47

I totally agree with you. How are we going to change this??

firstSTREET 24-11-2010, 23:04

Personally, I think social media is great for people in general, and especially for older adults. Even senior facilities are engaging their residents on Facebook, and sometimes with amazing results. I do see the point you are making regarding “addiction,” but as they say everything in moderation. Thanks for sharing!

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