Facebook, Twitter, instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Blogger, snapchat – what do all these functions have in common?
They can bring us all together but not in the way that we are supposed to.
For nearly a decade now, social media has become the norm for our social existence. We are able to connect with friends all over the world through facebook, twit about our latest adventures to our followers, share our vacation pics with colleagues on Instagram and blog about our thoughts and ideas through WordPress. Social media has earned its place for standing out as a great and powerful tool for connecting with the masses in the online community.
But is it really helping us?
As human beings we’ve always strived to improve our lives and make things easier whether it was; inventing a better toaster; creating a more powerful computer; improving our culinary skills or landing a man on mars.
But, at the same time we are fallible. We are here to learn from our mistakes and become better for it although I find that social media is a double edged sword, and is a big concern when it comes to utilising and customising our lives.
Allow me to explain…
As technology is become more and more advanced and prevalent it is making us more and more complacent and lazy. We turn to it to make us feel connected in ways we can comfortably control.
Social media may have improved our social aspect of life but at the same token its a passive tool which causes us to present ourselves as we want to be. We get to edit and delete ourselves and do whatever we like which allows us to control our lives however we’re not having the truthful and honest conversations we should be having.
We are expecting more from technology and less from each other. Technology appeals to us most when we are vulnerable so we become lonely and afraid of intimacy.
Therefore, Social media is the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship.
When I was growing up my social media was called ‘outside’.
Back in the days when I was growing up there was much more movement. As kids we went out to have fun and experience life for what it was and now it seems that the younger generation and to some degree the older too, are trapped in this cocoon of staying indoors and locking themselves from the outside world. There is that impulse to go inside when it just gets too tough and scary on the outside.
Did you know that a 1/3 of teenagers send more than 100 texts a day, and many of them are more likely to text their friends than they are to talk to them face to face. We need to get kids to develop face to face relationships. That’s the bedrock of their development.
Nowadays we are more polarised, more divided than we ever have been in history. It seems that making those little sacrifices of going out there and seeing people for who they really are is either a chore for some or a real burden for others.
Okay, enough of the sad facts. What can we do about it?
No matter how exciting it is to stay home and watch the latest season of Game of Thrones, we need to go out, meet and greet, touch and talk and see other people.
We need to work on developing face to face relationships which can’t just happen on a computer screen. We must engage with one another at social events, meet up groups and networking events.
And when we do we have to look at people straight in their eyes and… communicate like we mean it. We need to reach out and form real attachments.
Is there any 21st century skill more important than being able to sustain coherent, confident face to face communication? I think not.
So, here are five pong (which means a piece of advice) for being a better personal communicator:
- MTP – go and meet the people. Human relationships are messy and demanding and yes there will be occasions when we come across people who we may not get along with for various reasons. But there’s something beautiful about conversing with someone face to face, sharing thoughts and ideas, exchanging points of views which eventually gives us the ability to learn not just from others but about ourselves as well.
- Don’t multi task – Be present when speaking to another person. Don’t be thinking about an argument that you had or what you’re planning to have for tea or how will episode 10 of Game of Thrones end. Don’t text either. Don’t be half in it and half out of it. Be fully immersed in the conversation.
- Avoid pontificating – that’s what bloggers like me do. Leave it to us to let off steam. Don’t be like that. Enter every conversation assuming that you have something to learn. Which means setting aside your personal opinion.
- Use open ended questions – the five W’s – who, what, where, when and why and I’d like to add the How as well. Don’t ask Yes and No response questions. Ask interesting questions. Dig deeper.
- Listen – It’s the number one most important skill that we can all develop. If your mouth is open then you’re not listening. Why don’t we listen to each other? Because we like to talk – it’s an ego thing. We also get distracted when we listen by our thoughts and it takes effort and energy to actually pay attention to someone. Most of us don’t listen with the intent to understand we listen with the intent to reply. We have stopped listening to each other. A conversation requires a balance between talking and listening so make a point of maintaining that balance.
Conversations can be inspiring. Amazing ideas have sprung from simple, innocent conversations. Having someone to bounce ideas off of, to push them up against, is often the key and which is difficult to do via a computer screen.
Let’s be human doings for a change and not just human beings and make the commitment and the effort to go out there and connect, really connect with people in realtime.
Let’s stumble, look awkward, lose our words and reveal our true selves to each other and learn to grow from the experience and make a better life for ourselves through others.
Let’s begin to show an interest in other people – face to face interest. And be prepared to be amazed.
Go forth and communicate…