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The (Anti) Social Media Age

(Article written for another blog, so yes, I thought I’d recycle it here, as well, to add to this floundering blog. Mrs. Hemingway….WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE? WE NEED A PLAN.  Alas, we had such great aspirations. We will triumph, though. RoomThirty3 will rise up again. We will not go gently into that good night….Stay tuned.)

 

The (Anti) Social Media Age

The other night I went to my first hockey game. It was a thriller. The Ducks went up 3-0 on the Flyers only to allow the Flyers to tie it up and then score the winning goal in the overtime period. The seats were equally amazing, 8 rows up from the ice. I learned from my brother that there were 4 basic rules to hockey and began to understand them as I watched the game unfold. I also saw how numerous Flyers fans are and how boisterous, as it almost seemed as if it were a Flyers home game with all the chants of “Let’s go, Flyers.” I saw one shot on goal bounce right off the left goal post and into the glass in front of me (and embarrassingly, I flinched almost right out of my seat!). I saw another shot on goal soar right into the goalie’s glove. I saw the body of Flyers player #19 slammed into the glass by a Ducks player, jarring the glass loose. I saw Jaromir Jagr of the Flyers take a pass and score a goal right through the Ducks goalie’s legs. I experienced all of this and can still see the pictures of it right now despite only capturing the magic of my first hockey game with my mind.

On the contrary, the woman sitting in front of me spent the entire game taking pictures and uploading them to her Facebook and Twitter account. She missed the slam into the glass because she was typing on her phone. She missed the great pass on Jagr’s goal because she was watching through her phone’s camera lens. And she missed the shot into the goalie’s glove when she was writing a tweet. She didn’t seem to know much about hockey—or so it seemed as she asked her friend if the game was over after the second period—but spent so much time on her phone, she couldn’t possibly have gained any understanding from watching. And she didn’t even look up when the Flyers fans began their chants or when the Flyers fans all around us (including my brother) began high-fiving each other after each comeback goal in the 3rd period.

This current age we are in is defined by what we call “social media.” It’s almost ironic, though, because this media—Facebook and Twitter as examples—is making the world more anti-social than it’s ever been. I spent the evening at that hockey game talking with my brother and soaking in the atmosphere. The woman in front of me said at most two sentences to her friend and focused all her attention on her phone. I told my mom about the game when I talked to her the next day. I shared my experience with two friends, one in a conversation over the phone and one while we were at dinner. Sure, I didn’t share it with 1.3 million followers or with my “493 friends”, but wasn’t my personal interaction more “social” than the interaction with nothing more than a technology device?

Technology is great and has done many things to improve our lives. But I caution young people who are coming of age in this social media era not to become too dependent on it, so dependent that you forget how to be truly social. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, social means, “marked by or passed in pleasant companionship with friends or associates.” There’s so much you miss when you develop friendships through a computer screen or spend so much time trying to capture that friendship through technology. You miss the smiles and the laughter and the tears that only come from spending time together. You miss the hilarity of the moment your friend randomly exclaimed, “I do” when Robert Pattinson came on the movie screen in a movie preview. You miss the fearful yet light-hearted look in your friend’s eyes as you both hid under an apartment kitchen table while your two other roommates ferociously argued over keeping the heat on overnight.  You miss the serious moments when you sat with those same four friends around that same kitchen table, sharing a pot of tea and talking into the late hours of the night. And if you rush home after the high school football game to post about it on Facebook, you miss the moment when that boy shyly came over to talk to you as you lingered in the stands.

Do you really have 493 friends, or does the number “493” just make you feel better? How many of those 493 “friends” will help you when you need it? How many have you laughed with or cried with? How many will be there years later to reminisce about the fun times? And how many really—truly—care about your weekend or your Saturday night pictures or your first hockey game?

I don’t have 493 friends on Facebook, so I don’t know how great that large number next to the word “friends” might feel. But I do have years of high school and college memories that were never captured on a Facebook page nor Tweeted out to the world. And I can tell you that what does feel good are the memories of all the personal moments I’ve shared with friends, the true 8-10 friends. 493 may feel good now, but the memories of the fun times—the sights and sounds and expressions that come from true social interaction—will feel good forever.

So maybe instead of trying to capture every moment of a game or a party or a Saturday night on a camera phone and then uploading it instantly to a Facebook page to share with hundreds, try putting down the technology and just soaking in the atmosphere with a companion. I promise you, your memory will store it all and you won’t rob yourself of the additional joy that will come from the moment you share it in person with a friend. A true friend.

 

 

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