Social Media has a lot of uses. You can stay in touch with your fellow college graduates or friends from a state you moved from long ago, it can also save lives (but I’ll save that for later this week). I just want to keep people’s minds open about social media, when it’s a good thing and when it can be a bad thing.
Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram…
These social medias are not going away and each of them has their uses – I’m never going to deny that – but there’s an increasing number of people that don’t simply use these tools, but abuse them.
Undoubtedly, one of the most troubling reports (to me) to come out last year was Facebook’s survey to determine how often people check their smartphones. The results were overwhelming and I’ll state why after the facts.
- As of 2013, 57% of Americans have smartphones.
- Of those, approximately 80% check their smartphones within 15 of waking up – some even before they’ve brushed their teeth.
- In any given day, people spend from 1.5 to 2 hours on their phone, browsing Facebook and other social media (on average, each person has 7 social network apps).
- The top 3 most used apps (in order) are: Email, Internet Browser, Facebook.
The survey’s intent was on finding out why people use their phones (especially for social media) and many brought up some valid points. A smartphone is less like a phone and more like a computer with important emails, documents, and passcodes. The ability to work or connect with someone immediately is crucial especially if you’re in a startup world.
None of that, on its own is bad… but think about this.
The people being surveyed had to rank which three applications make them feel most connected to people; which made them feel the most social (remember these percentages will not equal 100 as they were averaged after splitting up the participants in 5 age-ranked groups):
- Text Messaging ranked the highest with 49%
- 43% said talking on the phone
- 40% said being sent a Facebook message
The survey spins this to say that these are more direct and personal; they require more effort by both parties instead of a broadcasted status update or publicly posted picture… but I’m sure you see the negative here as I do. Text messaging has outmatched talking on the phone. Talking on the phone has hardly outmatched a Facebook message.
I’m not going to sound like the clichéd senior saying, “The olden days were so great,” but if you feel more connected to the person you’re talking to by sending a text message than by talking on the phone, I think that’s a bit backwards.
The point I’m trying to get across is that, communication is not evolving, but quite the contrary. People are actually forgetting how to communicate, how to have intimate conversation. In my line of work, I’ve found that many are shocked when we talk intimately about their lifestyle, their health, death and what that means.
There are so many relationships that are present in our lives, but it’s almost as though people fear intimacy because it makes them uncomfortable. Facebook messaging and sending a text message can remove us from the intimacy. We could be having the worst day, but now we can send a text with a smiley face – not that people didn’t do this before in person by putting up facades, but it was still something many people saw through to ask what’s wrong.
Spending your time talking on the phone – especially to our elders – instead of multitasking while you send them a text or Facebook message means a lot. And more and more people are forgetting how to communicate rapidly as they’re becoming comfortable with sending a well thought-out text.
When it comes to social media, there is a use.
Facebook is for people that are distanced from us; text messaging is useful for when we can’t take a call as it would be disruptive. But time and again, when people near death, they talk of two things over and over again.
- I wish I had told people how I really felt.
- I wish I had spent my time on people than on possessions.
It’s not that communication is changing and we’re too “stuck in our ways,” it’s growing worse. The statistics of smartphone users shows their priorities and not every elder knows how to use a smartphone (let alone owns one), so consider them and their needs and how “connected” they feel. Better yet, surrender social media and text messaging for a week and see how your life changes, see how you occupy your downtime, reflect on what’s important to you.
Later this week, we’ll discuss the positives to social media especially as it concerns our elders.