Growing Up Online

I had the privilege of watching a documentary recently that performed a study and investigation on the effects of online social media and youth. If it sounds interesting to you, I highly recommend that you go check it out on Netflix. From some expert professionals in the field of teaching and the social behaviors/nature.

Overall, it seems very interesting to see all of the truth behind some of the studies. Most teachers have actually had to change their teaching methods and styles in order to keep up with the fast-paced needs of their students, today. “We have to be interactive, because they’re accustomed to sitting in front of a screen, and they have five windows up and they’re talking to three different people at the same time,” said one principal of a high school in the state of New Jersey. I can remember when I used to be the epitome of that sentence when I was in high school, but I can’t help-but feel like most people don’t grow out of that phase anymore. Before, it was “easier” to disconnect when you weren’t at or near a computer, but with the invention of smart phones – some people never have to disconnect. Instead, we’re able to stay online, virtually twenty-four hours a day without noticing it. It actually concerns me a bit, as it makes me wonder about people’s ability to properly communicate with one another.

I remember when I was younger, I remember how difficult it was to discern emotional tone and/or involvement from instant messaging. Someone could appear to be pissed, or appear to be unbothered by a statement or a comment, but in reality it’s the polar opposite. Even today, I feel upset in a sense that we tend to text people more than we actually call them. Surely I can see the convenience behind a quick text, but I feel like online conversations hinder our ability to actually communicate in person, one-on-one. I know I’ve experienced it, but how many times have you been out with a friend or relative and rather than focusing on the present situation and people they’re with – they “multi-task” by using their cell phone and jump into random parts of conversations that they missed with a ‘what?’ Although I can personally admit it to myself, when I’m texting someone I’m thinking and typing about what i’m going to say, and often-times drown out the sound of people around me. Occassionaly, however, I can pick up on certain comments and/or words and understand where a conversation is leading, but is that really “listening?”

“James Borg states that human communication consists of 93 percent body language and paralinguistic cues, while only 7% of communication consists of words themselves,” but some scholars disagree and believe only 60-70% is a more accurate figure that represents the percent of non-verbal communication.

Irregardless, when the majority of communication is non-verbal, how does this affect someone’s ability to communicate in the real world? That question was proposed to me back when I was in high school, but I haven’t really gave it much thought until I got out of the Marine Corps and started attending college with youth that are years younger than me. I honestly can’t sit here and judge, however, as I’ve been equally as guilty at times myself. However, I am able to prohibit myself from using social media while conversing or spending time with friends or family. It just makes me wonder if this habit is becoming more a social norm above everything else…

Bleh, enough rambling.