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Social media – affecting our online and offline relationships

It’s apparent that people are becoming more dependent on their phones, not only for their traditional use, but to access social media sites. According to recent stats from Google, 55% of people use their phones to access social networking sites. The bizarre thing is that while we’re spending more time on social networks, it’s pulling the focus away from physical interaction with people, and placing it on a virtual one.

All smart phones these days come with social media integration such as Facebook and Twitter to make it even easier for people to share media – but how much is too much?

Australians in particular are hooked on social media, with Internet users spending more time than other countries visiting social networks and blogs, averaging 7 hours, 17 minutes per person per month!

Put that phone away!

The sad thing is a recent survey commissioned by Badoo found that 24% of people have actually missed out on important moments in person because they were too busy documenting their experiences for online sharing.

Last month during a City and Colour concert at the Fremantle Arts Centre, singer Dallas Green asked the crowd to put away their mobile devices just for one song, so they could enjoy the moment rather than documenting it to share with friends. A lot of people looked confused, hesitant and embarrassed. Slowly the sea of bright screens dimmed and the atmosphere changed as people began to sing and connect with each other.

A new way to connect

People have less time these days, so many take to social networking to develop new friendships with people who have similar interests. A few months ago, I struck up a conversation with a man I’d never met before at a gaming event. He asked if he could add me on Facebook (as opposed to asking for my phone number) to chat some more about particular games.

Although I found this a little strange, it is a less confronting way for people to keep in touch. It also displays a positive avenue for social networking to be used as a tool to help shy and socially anxious people express their identity and help them interact with others.

While the friends we are connecting with online may be ones we also connect offline with, I feel it is important to use social networking to enhance and develop those face to face relationships. We have so many great ways to communicate with each other that are not restricted due to cost, distance and efficiency (as has been the case in the past). Social media has so much potential, but it’s important to distinguish the boundaries. If you became completely dependent interacting with people through social networks and all electricity in the world was to go out, you’d essentially be sitting alone with a blank screen.

What’s your take? Tell us in the comment section below.

 

 

18 comments

  1. Ken Alexander says:

    Being of the older generation I find it perplexing to commonly see a group of people (friends?) sitting at in a cafe or similar, not talking but interacting with other absent people (friends?) on their respective mobile phones. Surely the real contact is immeasurably more important and fulfilling than the virtual one. If at a meeting, concert or event my mobile is off. To me its just natural to do this and its the way I want it to be.

    • Louise Moran says:

      That’s certainly the popular view Ken!

      Thanks for commenting,

      Louise Moran
      Blog editor

  2. Trish says:

    I totally agree…my friends and I( and we are all what could be considered ‘mature’ people) have a pact….if we are out are our phones ARE NOT!!!
    We are out to be to-gether….not to be head down looing at our phones…….besides, a phone cannnot give you the gossip, news & laughs that your friends can !!!

    • Louise Moran says:

      Apparently in the US there’s a trend when a group meets up… they put all their phones in the middle of the table and nobody is allowed to touch their phone until the end of the meal. If anyone breaks under pressure and picks up their phone, they have to forfeit a round of drinks for the table!

      Thanks for commenting Trish.

      Louise Moran
      Blog editor

  3. Albert3801 says:

    I’m one of those people who will sit with others for dinner etc and both of us will be on our mobile phones on social networks. The “absent” friends are part of the group too as I share with the person there in person what the “absent” friends are saying.

    Ofcourse it’s a two way thing. If the person I am with at the cafe does not want to ues their phone for social media then I won’t either. But that makes it much more stressful for me.

    • Louise Moran says:

      Sounds like you have the social etiquette right 🙂

      Thanks for commenting,

      Louise Moran
      Blog editor

  4. Tony says:

    Before social media arrived, people would, when they could, try to capture a moment with their cameras to be shared with their family and friends face to face later over a dinner, drinks and conversation. Now the sharing is done almost instantaneously without the face to face dinner or drinks. It is the same urge to share the moment. I always used to think, whenever I saw it happening, that the fullness of the moment is diminished in the effort to capture it. That must be so much truer in today’s technological social media world!!

    • Louise Moran says:

      Hi Tony,

      That’s a really interesting point! There are so many gadgets and apps now for photography, recording and sharing.

      It is human nature to share, but we’re definitely in favour of enjoying the moment rather than missing it because you’re trying to capture it for sharing on social media!

      Thanks for commenting.

      Louise Moran
      Blog editor

  5. If iinet decides to form a relationship with social media (like facebook) that is iinet’s business. I personally think that in the long term they damage their own brand by doing so. However the ABC is supported by taxpayers and is not allowed to advertise, yet they advertise social media which helped to make people like Zuckerburg very rich. The ABC should be told that to advertise social media is not in their charter.

    • Louise Moran says:

      Hi Alexander,

      As a brand iiNet does use Facebook as well as other social media channels. We find it’s a very effective tool for two-way conversation with our customers where we can share content, spark conversations and get to know our customers better.

      We can’t really speak for the ABC though.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment on the blog.

      Kind regards,

      Louise Moran
      Blog editor

  6. Ray says:

    As a family we’ve now walked away from FB entirely for the following reasons:
    1. my son was being constantly targetted and bullied via this media
    2. my wife & I are tired of reading constant updates from our narcissitic friends who have little else in their lives other than their screens
    3. its a too nice a world out there to be wasting time recording have a good time, we’re far more focussed on actually HAVING a good time

    FB was a great idea that is now commercially exploited and incredibly well past its use by date.
    R

    • Louise Moran says:

      Hi Ray,

      Very sorry to hear you’ve had such negative experiences on social networks, particularly the fact that your son was a victim of cyber bullying.

      Social media is a great tool for sharing but we totally agree, it should be about living your life and not constantly being glued to social networks!

      Thanks for commenting.

      Kind regards,

      Louise Moran
      Blog editor

  7. Carole oO'Dwyer says:

    @Ray, Agree totally-social media has a place but cannot ever replace the personal contact of real friendship and emotions – sailor NSW

  8. Robsablah says:

    Q: but how much is too much?
    A: Farmville is too much
    (Without reading the article)

    • Louise Moran says:

      Well Robsablah, the article wasn’t exactly about Farmville but we take your point – everyone has their limit with social media and Farmville is yours!

      Thanks for commenting,

      Louise Moran
      Blog editor

  9. Andrew says:

    Well written article.

    Personally I think social media is a great idea, with the ability to share and update good (and bad) things that has happened, to help you keep in touch with people you may not have the time or ability to in person.

    However, as with everything, there needs to be a mediation on what is acceptable and what is not. People need to learn to use social media to compliment their lives and experiences, not overshadow it.
    Using social media to share about something you experienced is a great idea, using it to share about something you are experiencing, is not.

    Put it away, live in the moment, and when you are in your own time, share your experience. People need to learn to not allow social media to detract from current moments, but to share great past ones.

    My two cents.

    • Louise Moran says:

      We couldn’t agree more Andrew 🙂

      Thanks for sharing your two cents!

      Kind regards,

      Louise Moran
      Blog editor

  10. steve says:

    Hi there, great article and I agree with most of it – particularly the lack of face- to-face contact.
    However I disagree with your comment that ” People have less time these days”. I think that there’s still 24 hours in a day – it’s just the way we use those hours that has changed and in many cases I think it is being totally wasted by too much time both on Facebook and also texting.
    Example:
    A: want to go to the movies?
    B: maybe – what do you want to see?
    A: dunno – what do you reckon?
    B: What’s on?
    A: I’ll have a look
    A: How about Ted?
    B Yeah OK – what time?
    A: Well we could go at 11am or 1pm
    B: Maybe 1pm .. how are we getting there?
    A: I’ll ask my mum and get back to you
    B: OK
    etc. etc.
    This whole thing could have been solved with a 20c land line phone call and an actual voice conversation – when i try to explain this my kids think I’m weird!

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