As a communication student, I am constantly being lectured about the importance of social media. These websites are an excellent and completely free way to reach your audience and promote your company or product. There are a startling 1.15 billion Facebook users and 500 million Twitter users. Using this channel, you are able to reach many people with a variety of demographics from all over the world. Promotion through these websites also is more casual, friendly, and intimate. People choose to like or follow you and therefore have a genuine interest in what you are offering.
It is interesting to me that social media has become increasingly important in recent years. I remember when the first social media websites were established. I became an avid Myspace user back in 2004. I was a 13-year-old girl and the only reason I had to use the website was to stalk my classmates and convince them that my life was equally as cool. When I created my Facebook account in 2007, I was using the website for the same reason. It was purely for entertainment purposes. Today, however, these outlets have evolved into a vital part of our society. We use it to share with our friends what is going on in our lives. We use it to share our ideas. We use it for self-promotion. And it is common sense nowadays that a company cannot hope to survive without a social media following.
It makes sense for businesses to use these outlets. The majority of our culture revolves around technology. However, I think that on a personal level, this has made us gradually more distant from each other. Face-to-face communication has been replaced by text messages. Instead of meeting up with an old friend to catch up, we skip the whole interpersonal communication thing and rely on stalking their Facebook page. Whenever we feel strongly about something, we send out a tweet instead of going out and actively protesting. Technology has made communicating easier and thus has made us all a little lazier. After all, sending a text, a tweet, or viewing a Facebook profile takes a lot less time than sitting down and having a heartfelt conversation.
For this reason, I have grown weary of the social media world. I never had the desire to use Twitter. I used to check my Facebook hourly, but now rarely visit the webpage. I realize that my disdain is inappropriate for a future communication professional. I am told by all my teachers that to resist this outlet is a recipe for disaster in the communication career field. I cannot, however, seem to shake my negative feelings towards social media.
For if the world we live in now is focused mostly on communicating through technology, imagine how future generations will be. I believe we are creating a socially-awkward generation, lacking effective verbal and interpersonal communication skills. These skills are vital to survival. There is much research on how lack of human contact can affect a person negatively. No one would be seriously affected if they lacked a social media presence.
For this reason, I will maintain my distance from these websites. I want the generation my children grow up with to know how wonderful it is to sit next to a person and feel their energy. You can learn so much more about a person when you communicate with them directly than when you communicate with them through a channel. I seek to convince others to take a step back and realize that direct communication is a beautiful thing. It is honest. There is no room for disclosure of feelings or premeditated thoughts.
I encourage you all to evaluate how use of social media has affected your life. Do you think it has impacted you positively or negatively?