Navigating social media’s ‘antisocial’ side effects

Caleb Baird

Does technology bring us closer together, or does it spread us further apart? This is a question that many people today are asking themselves. My question is, is it possible that it is doing both? Does technology impact us differently, or do we all interact with it the same?

While everyone has their own opinion on this topic, it is safe to say that technology has permanently changed the way we communicate. Nowadays, we see someone more online than we do in real life. Face-to-face interactions have plummeted, and many life skills such as basic communication and confrontation are lost.

We become encapsulated with this artificial world of immediacy and keeping up our image. Our social media goals are driven solely by the number of likes and retweets our personal accounts get. It allows us to feel validated, no pun intended.

With so many opportunities to be connected, I think it is easy to mistake social media “friendships” as an alternative to in-person relationships. Today, we are linked through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and more. There is an overload of material to digest, so we feel little need to reach out to anyone for more information.

We figure that since we’ve seen their latest picture and post, we have a bond built between each other, but we don’t. What I mean by this is that I could go onto a friend’s Facebook page and discover all their week’s activities without even speaking to them personally. I already know how work is going, what food they ate yesterday and how great their family reunion was last weekend. What more do I need to know?

At this point, the thought of reaching out for an in-person interaction is eliminated, but we don’t realize what we are missing out on. I don’t think that technology has made us purposely antisocial—I think it has made us accidentally antisocial. It makes us feel more connected to one another because in a sense we are sharing much more, but it largely disengages us. It disengages us from truly listening to someone else speak, sharing their feelings or confessing a secret. With the insertion of the internet between two friends, the relationship becomes superficial and less meaningful. 

People today are dependent on using apps like Instagram and Facebook to stay relatable, and I highly doubt that will change anytime soon. Therefore, I’m not sure there is an easy solution to this problem. I only foresee it expanding in the future with the rapidly growing world of technology.

It seems to me that we have an increasing pressure to stay relevant in society without showing any real effort. There becomes this pressure to be caught up with everything going on, but if you become too involved with social media, you’ll be made fun of and ridiculed. It’s a lose-lose situation.

Personally, I enjoy social media. I appreciate the chance to look at the posts and pictures of people I know and admire. However, I do not believe it is empirical reality. You pick and choose what you post and what you don’t, and most people stray away from displaying anything too personal. Everything is just touching the surface layer, and we never dive any deeper, so how are we to establish a real connection?