here are few notions more cliched than that of technology ruining communication. Whether it’s people who share things they never would in person over Facebook, or those too obsessed with pinning crafty ideas to ever complete any of them, there is no doubt that social media has solicited its fair share of criticism.
Then, of course, there are the hoards of humans clambering to become a part of any social media site available, posting and pinning and tweeting in massive numbers, seeing no problem with the current obsession with sharing everything.
To be fair, there are some glaring issues with both extremes.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and countless other social media sites do have their place. Society has a pesky habit of evolving. The creation of social media sites is certainly not the first time it has done so and is hardly the most revolutionary concept of the century. It would be false to presume that Facebook or Twitter marks the beginning of changing language or means of communication.
Social media sites open up new horizons of communication, advertising and keeping in touch. They create the potential of connecting billions of humans in ways that, only a matter of decades ago, people never would have thought possible.
However, the danger lies in relying so completely on virtual means of communication that we neglect those in the physical reality.
Recently, I served as the National Honor Society President of Stansbury High School. Keeping members updated on meetings and events seemed simple — post a message on the Facebook page. It worked beautifully, until several members consistently missed meetings and activities because they didn’t have one.
Shocking, right? High school students without a Facebook? It wasn’t exactly the controversial current issue of the year, but it still served as an example of people uninformed and excluded because they chose not to take part in the wave of social media.
With such a mass of contacts available via Facebook, it can seem strange that people ever managed to keep in contact without it. Imagine staying in touch with a long-distance friend or relative without it. That would mean exercising some extra time and effort — the idea should not seem absurd.
In fact, sometimes it’s nice to have a friend that does not participate in the social media wave if only to brush up on telephone calling and (heaven forbid) in-person conversation skills.
Though social media sites are thorough and extensive, they are not end-all answers to keeping informed on the lives of those around us. There is no doubting their potential as positive assets. However, they are meant to widen the possibilities of communication, not to limit them. If the only people we maintain relationships with are those that “follow” our boards or tweets and are listed as a “friend” on Facebook, then we are missing out on the wealth of experience that comes from off-line interaction.
Siera Gomez is a freshman at Brigham Young University.