social media

Is social media making us unsociable and lazy?

Written by Emily Sullivan

Social media is the dominatrix of 21st century communication. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Google+ are just some social networking websites most of us visit every day.

Social media is the dominatrix of 21st century communication. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Google+ are just some social networking websites most of us visit every day. And with lots of people now owning smart phones, refreshing social media pages every 5 minutes is becoming a national obsession, especially with the younger generation.

The convenience of checking up on what your friends are doing by simply ‘stalking’ their Facebook page has in some cases replaced a simple phone call. It’s all becoming very impersonal. Has social networking websites driven us further away from each other instead of bringing us closer?

Is it even possible to develop a relationship in 140 characters or less? Online social networking does bring about a quicker response when it comes to seeking to form new relationships, compared to the seemingly laborious efforts of the pre-internet age. When reporting on a story for uni, I was trying to contact a policeman to get an interview from him. After getting no reply from his email, I found him on Twitter and sent him a tweet asking if I would be able to speak with him. Within half a day we had tweeted, emailed and then spoken on the phone.

So yes, social media can definitely help form relationships but I am not sure how well a relationship can be developed over the Internet. The phone call with the policeman was crucial and I could not have explained what I wanted from him in a couple of 140 character tweets.

Effective communication still requires the time and effort necessary to source and leverage valuable relationships. Developing relationships offline may be longer and harder, but it is typically far more effective. The tools of the Internet have not replaced the importance of this, but social networking sites have offered an initial and highly effective first step, by providing a wider reach in which to effectively pursue networking.

Social media seems to be creating a lazy society. We no longer need to have our own ideas—we can just get ideas from someone else and then chose whether we want to share or comment on them. We have become a voyeuristic society, where instead of doing, we watch. We observe instead of take part in events and then use social media to comment and discuss them. We anxiously wait for the next celeb to screw up, another politician to be involved in a sex scandal, the verdict in a high profile murder trial or simply a friend to do something stupid or embarrassing so that we can quickly update a status, send a tweet or create a meme offering our opinions, jokes, mocks and the occasional insightful though.

Social media has created a community of slactivists instead of activists, a community who believe clicking the ‘like’ button on Facebook, digitally signing an online petition or retweeting something on Twitter is somehow making a huge difference (Kony2012 is a prime example of this naivety). People convince themselves that a cyber-comment they make is somehow actually affecting the world, they don’t realise though that all they are doing is following a lazy and ingenuous crowd, a crowd that is forever expanding through our excessive use of social media.

We are becoming lazy by relying on the wide reach of the Internet to do our work for us. How many of you have tweeted a question to your followers before trying to find the answer out yourself? Don’t get me wrong—I am an avid user of social media and have been refreshing my Facebook and Twitter pages constantly whilst writing this article, but I do wish I wasn’t so dependent on it. I do believe social media has contributed to me making less effort with keeping in contact with some people and has made me lazier in my work and social ethic.

Too much time is spent on social media sites. There is no denying that these websites have their advantages, like keeping in contact with old friends, networking and making contacts and finding jobs but along with these advantages comes a long list of disadvantages. Social media has definitely changed the way we communicate with one another and it is sad that a ‘hi how r u?’ on Facebook chat has replaced a phone call with your best friend.

Social media is becoming more and more prominent in our lives every day and soon we, the ones that were brought up with social media, will replace the older generation who now struggle to use a computer. I’m just wondering how many tagged photos I will have by the time I’m 70.

What do you think of the role of social media? Are we relying on it too much? Have your say in the comments section below, on Facebook or on Twitter.