STOP. Before reading any more of this post I want you to already think about how much media you are already consuming before even reading this blog. I currently have four tabs open, my phone next to me with my organization app up, and I am constantly getting notifications of new emails popping up in the corner of my screen. Look around you. How many things are you trying to do at once?
Living in a fully media engaged society is a blessing and a curse. Being able to communicate with people from all over the world from the convince of your living room has changed the way we see community. But, it has also caused us to not be able to fully engage with the people sitting right next to us.
Researchers at Yale University have found that because of all of the distractions of the internet, phones,
tablets, etc., while people may be communicating with more people then ever before, the quality of that communication has significantly diminished. They also found that kids who spend more time interacting with a screen instead of other kids can struggle to understand emotion, and do not develop to be as independent as others.
The use of the texting and things like Snapchat are lowering our emotional attachments to others, and our verbal communication skills. The ability to be eloquent or witty online does not compare to the ability to hold a face to face conversation with someone. If we continue in this trend of communication, who’s to argue that we might revert back to speaking like neanderthals within the next 20 years? Where must we draw the line between online interaction and face to face contact, and how can we make sure we are actively engaged in the community actually living around us, and not just learning about them from their most recent Facebook post?
I have struggled with this in my own life. My major is digital media, I should be connected all the time, right? There are many new trends developing because of this need for actual human interaction and one of those involves a new ritual whenever going out to eat. Once everyone sits down, you all stack your phones in the middle of the table, and the first one to check his or her’s, pays for everyone’s meal. It seems kind of harsh, but it gets the phones out of everyone’s hands and causes us to engage in real conversation with one another.
The ability to be able to “turn off” from all of the digital distractions has become one of the hardest things for our modern society, but the ability and willingness to do so can make a big impact on how you interact with others. Big news and always posting your personal business, problems, etc. to the internet generally never has a good effect on one’s emotional state and can not fully be solved by comments on a post. We must learn again how to communicate these problems and good news to each other, and not just to a screen.
Human’s have basic human needs that just can’t be met by Facebook or other social media. A heart emoji or smiley face can not compare to the real embrace between one person and another and can not be matched by loving and caring words over the internet.
I’m not telling you to go out and throw all of your digital devices out the window, but I am asking you to realize that there are real people in your everyday life that need more attention then your phone or Facebook post. Finding the balance between real life and the internet is tricky, but when achieved it can change your ability to do both affectively.
Facebook can wait.
Twitter can wait.
Your real friends and family are finite, and deserve your attention.