Social media has its good and bad points depending on how it is used. Sometimes it brings people together but it also gives of a sense of timelessness.

I have to say that I “hangout” on Facebook and chat with friends and family probably more than I should. I do give it credit for allowing me to keep in touch with people I may not have the ability to see due to distance or circumstances of work and family obligations. People I may not have been friends with in my youth have become more a part of my life now that we have aged and gotten away from the high school mentally of who is popular and who is not part of the in crowd (I was never in the popular group).

However, I think it gives us a feeling of immortality in that there will always be another time to catch up in person. The good intentions are there but somehow life gets in the way and “get togethers” are never made. The time slips by and next thing you know there is no more time left.

I lost a cousin recently. We said at least a half dozen times that we should get together and have a mini reunion but somehow family and work obligations never seemed to work out to do so. And now I can’t. And the regret is a reality.

So how do we as a society get back into a more community based versus virtual based way of communicating?

First of all, don’t give up your social media base. It is a start to keeping in touch with family and friends. It is much better than no involvement at all. I like the quote from this article:

“They’re finding that people communicate more often with family and friends because of technology, but the quality of that communication may be weaker. Kids who spend more time engaging with a screen than with other kids or adults can struggle to understand emotion, create strong relationships or become more dependent on others.”

I have come to enjoy using Skype while my older daughter is in France and now with my younger daughter up at college four hours away. I can try to read body language a bit more than when we text or “Whatapp” where I only have words without inflection or facial feedback. I feel we are communicating better with the visual than by words alone.

“Technology should make communication easier when it’s appropriate,” Roberts said. “But when we have access (to more direct forms of communication), we don’t use it. Part of it is just that it’s human nature to avoid. It’s easier.” (from the same article)


Second– take a chance
and start with one or two friends or family members that you would like a closer relationship with and set up either a recurring breakfast or lunch or even an activity like a walk to develop and build a stronger base to share more deeply.  Granted its much harder to take the time to meet with someone and actually engage in conversations but the benefits out weigh the effort. 

This article  on Social Work Today has many great points including this one:

“According to Paul Booth, PhD, an assistant professor of media and cinema studies in the College of Communication at DePaul University in Chicago, social media certainly affects how we engage with one another across all venues and ages. “There has been a shift in the way we communicate; rather than face-to-face interaction, we’re tending to prefer mediated communication,” he says. “We’d rather e-mail than meet; we’d rather text than talk on the phone.”

According to Booth, studies have shown that people actually are becoming more social and more interactive with others, but the style of that communication has changed so that we’re not meeting face-to-face as often as we used to.

That said, our interactions on social media tend to be weak ties—that is, we don’t feel as personally connected to the people at the other end of our communication as we do when we’re face-to-face. “So while we’re communicating more, we may not necessarily be building relationships as strongly,” Booth says.”

One simple benefit? We actually develop deeper, trusting relationships where we feel more able to share concerns, feelings and disappointments than when we only communicate online. Praise and compliments take on more meaning when given face to face rather than a “like or comment”. This article from Time shares:

“In an age of perpetual digital connectedness, why do people seem so disconnected? In a Duke University study, researchers found that from 1985 to 2004, the percentage of people who said there was no one with whom they discussed important matters tripled, to 25%; the same study found that overall, Americans had one-third fewer friends and confidants than they did two decades ago.”

Another huge benefit? We actually feel better when we meet and greet each other with a hug or similar touch. Touching is one the the most basic human needs but most people don’t get enough human interaction to survive let alone grown and thrive. I’ve been getting together with several ladies on a fairly regular basis and we always share a hug when we leave. It makes a huge difference in our bonding and ability to trust each other with confidences.  This article on World of Psychology touches on that issue:

“Hugging induces oxytocin, the “bonding hormone,” that’s renowned for reducing stress, lowering cortisol levels and increasing a sense of trust and security. According to research conducted at the University of North Carolina, women who receive more hugs from their partners have lower heart rates and blood pressure and higher levels of oxytocin.

So what if someone does not want to be face to face? It is hard when people reject your attempts to be more than a casual relationship. Maybe they are not ready or able to participate in “real time” interaction.  I would say keep trying if it means more to you, otherwise accept them as they are and choose other people to have deeper friendships. Some people just need more space than others and can only handle small amounts of togetherness before it becomes stressful.

Feedback–I would love to hear your thoughts on this conversation going on in my head!!

 

All the best– Janice

 

Links:

Read more at

http://national.deseretnews.com/article/2235/Face-time-vs-screen-time-The-technological-impact-on-communication.html#ZZU1EKgkWEtP0z3T.99

http://www.socialworktoday.com/archive/051313p10.shtml

http://content.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1998396,00.html

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-5756/10-Reasons-Why-We-Need-at-Least-8-Hugs-a-Day.html

http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2014/03/10/the-surprising-psychological-value-of-human-touch/

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