Social media and its impact on the culture and on people's and family's lives is growing and not ALWAYS in a positive manner. I'm seeing more reports of marriages hurt by tech/social media addiction and secretive relationships, children engulfed in an alternate reality that eventually enables them to escape real life, and teens who carry on conversations and create alter-egos just to shock, satisfy needs and live a completely fictional parallel life. Heather Davis, author, speaker and teacher, wrote this article on HER blog. Highly recommended because it states the obvious:
Communication vs. chatter
I chose for my final 5:45 workshop the theme of Social Networking: Opportunity or Dependency and found myself once again surrounded by twenty-somethings. The Brother (ed. note – Heather was at a monastery for this seminar) who led was delightful and engaging and made so many thoughtful points and with absolutely no judgement that I, and the young people, were utterly enthralled. He even had a hand-out! On it were several points that warrant reposting:
“93% of communication is non-verbal.”
“There is a human limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships— on the Dunbar scale, it’s 150.”
“If everything is important, nothing is important.”
At this point he invited everyone to turn on their phones and leave them on for the rest of the class. He then called up two volunteers and handed each of them badminton racquets and a birdy. He started by positioning them very far away, say, thirty feet, and invited them to rally. We watched as the birdy sputtered and fell in the chasm between them, as they lunged for shots that went far off course. Despite their best efforts it was hard to get any sort of rally going.
“When we are far removed,” the Brother said. “It is hard to have good communication. The social media are a great blessing in these situations. People who could not be in touch at all now can be.”
Now he positioned the girls close together, just two feet apart, and asked them again to get a rally going. They barely had room to pull their arms back and swing, let alone return the birdy. They became stifled and giggly, unable to do much of anything but fetch the birdy as it fell at their feet.
“Ah, so here we see what happens when we have too much communication. It kills any chance of a healthy back and forth discussion because there is nothing to say anymore.” The brother then pointed to a boy in the room on a smart phone. “You just posted on Facebook, probably, that you’re at a workshop in Taize on social networking and two girls are playing badminton, right?” The boy smiled sheepishly. “No, that’s good,” the brother said, “I wanted you to. You’ve probably been posting and texting throughout the trip, right? There’s nothing wrong with that. But think about this: now when you go home, your friends won’t have any need to ask you what you did on you trip because they’ll already know. And you won’t want to tell your stories because you feel as if they’re old news.”
This is how social media, when used too much, actually kills communication.
He then positioned the girls about ten feet apart and they soon began an easy rally that was effortless and fun and went on for a good twenty or thirty volleys. “This is the effect we want to create when we use our internet tools. Too little communication and a relationship dies. Too much, and it chokes on itself. Next time you are texting or tweeting or posting, ask yourself: will this make it more or less likely that we’ll have something to talk about next time we see each other. Will this bring us closer or will we find ourselves face-to-face and instead of talking comfortably, as we did online, will we bury our heads in our phones and talk to someone else?”