Social media is indeed fantastic. I’ll be the first person to admit that I am forever checking Facebook and twitter. These are amazing creations that have completely revolutionised the world and are now a part of the daily life for many of us. At the touch of a button, every single one of us has the ease of access to mass communication with friends, businesses, causes or groups. Twitter for example, a microblogging platform is designed with the sole purpose of exchanging information and facilitating reciprocal communication, therefore it enables the creation of small communities of individuals who are interested in common topics. All day, everyday walking through the worlds major cities, people are looking at their phones because a red “1, 2, or 8″ notification appears on their homescreen, or someone has mentioned them in a tweet. Tweeting has become so powerful in society that it is now part of major court case coverage, features in television and film, and even has debates that refer to it’s very usage inside the mother of parliaments. (Just ask unnamed premiership footballer!)
Of course, If there is a primary culprit for this changed landscape, it is Facebook. The social network’s astonishing success in less than eight years has brought it more than 760 million active users in every country on earth, made it the world’s busiest website—and the most popular tool for daily commentary worldwide. Why? Because Facebook gives every single user a personal broadcast platform. Many plan their lives via Facebook with events and are able to communicate at once with anyone about anything, and document daily life with photos, videos, notes and thoughts. In education, the twitterverse too has its’ place in this day and age. Indeed, many members of academia marvel (or react with utter rejection) at the rapid changes in the production of scholarly work and interaction between academics online. Thousands of scholars and higher education institutions are now actively participating in social media (such as Twitter), as an important aspect of their own research and teaching work.
The question remains however, with these marvels in the way we communicate daily, are we enhancing our ability to communicate with everyone and everything around us, or are we in danger of damaging our own and possibly more importantly the “next generations” ability to hold serious real time conversation and interaction without the use of an “@” “lol,” “like” or “dislike” ?
Many of us have grown up in the midst of the birth of these great enhancements in modern technology. We use these platforms as tools of the trade on a daily basis, but we have also existed in a time before before they were created. For many, (my younger cousin for example) like many of his age group will not know a world without Facebook or Twitter and daily life in 140 characters or less. “How was your day?” is more often than not “How woz ur day lol!” (Aright, I’ll put the grammar Nazi hat down!) I was just pondering this thought today thinking that I am bad enough with my own usage of social media, but at least many of us have actually known a time before using these platforms. (We also actually speak to people!) I am just speculating, but there is a school of thought out there that a danger for many in “the next generation” is that tweeting and Facebooking might become the majority of regular interaction/ conversation.
I am not completely rejecting the notion, we have seen the real benefits of Social Media, as mentioned above. However, even though I’m only in my 20s, and I’m not 85, as my Grandfather would say; “these kids never leave their computers down for 10 minutes and talk to each other.” I laugh now at that, but it does leave a slightly disconcerting thought .
Of course, perhaps this is over analysing. However, an inability to communicate or interact viably without typing sentences in an amount of characters is a worrying thought. What if one day, that thought becomes a reality?
Written by Jonathan Lavery – A Politics student with a keen interest in British and Irish politics. Jonathan is also a Campaign Manager & Branch Press Officerin the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) @JonnyLav