Back in 1986, The Fabulous Thunderbirds sang a song titled, “Tuff Enuff” (YouTube Video available at this link). It’s a song about a man who would do anything for his woman. Yeah . . . . Absolutely nothing was out of the question. We don’t seem to have that same kind of “sticking” power today. So why is that? Today it seems we can choose to change partners as often as we change clothes, and we have “no-fault” divorces (if we even get married in the first place). Nothing seems to stick for the long haul. Well, maybe it’s not like that with everybody (at least regarding some of the older folks), but the younger the age, the less stability there seems to be in relationships–less “stick-to-it-tiveness.” We often spend more time texting and using social media than actually communicating face-to-face with each other. And we are totally addicted to technology. Whatever happened to actually developing social skills that don’t include social media?
Social media impacts younger generations so overwhelmingly that older generations are surprisingly following suit. It’s like a new dance that has gone viral and people of all ages want to learn it, even if they are a little late.
When we see our parents and grandparents on a site like Facebook, they like to spread all of their personal business across the world, from expressing dinner plans to exposing adultery. With the continuous overflow of social media, adults are shying away from the old-school approach of bashing everything the young folks are doing. It’s a different day; the young generation has more control over this world than ever before.
Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and MySpace (whoever still uses that)—the list goes on of social media websites that shape society today. It’s how we communicate, get news, let others in on our personal lives and even to find our true love. So social media is awesome to have, right?
Social media is positive only when the consumption of social media does not exceed moderation. America doesn’t seem to grasp the idea of moderation anyway when it comes to social media, or anything else for that matter.
With the continual rise of technology, social media continues to be in our lives and it is consumed by all age groups. You may see your fifth grade cousin taking pictures on Instagram, a sorority at your college getting their 15 seconds of fame for taking selfies at a baseball game, or even worse, seeing a friend request on Facebook from none other than your great grandmother.
Of course, being on social media can be fun. But it can also be addicting; so addicting that you could find yourself checking on it 100 times a day like the 13-year-olds in a recent CNN study. It’s becoming so excessive that even things like “selfie sticks” are being popularized—and the grown-ups are the ones who are popularizing it.
The funny thing about social media is that it negatively affects real or personal social life. A date between two people that like each other now consists of being together with their faces in their phones the whole time. Instead of meeting a nice girl in person you may spark an interest in, now you can just “slide in their DMs” (slang for conversing via direct message on Facebook, Instagram or most commonly, Twitter).
Or we record every part of the day on Snapchat for people to see (even though the average person would most likely skip it).
When every activity we share with others is behind a keyboard or camera, what kind of real life social skills can we have? What will our kids do when they have to interview for a job? What will happen when that guy who swipe-righted that hot-girl has to actually speak to her (or does he even have to)?
Adults are the ones following the young teens with the help of reality shows and advertising. Every time you watch a show on television, advertisers want you to tweet about about it with a hashtag (which is good advertising, of course). Adults are then reeled into following the latest trends, which leads into more consumption because of social media’s addictiveness.
Not only that, we’re letting social media determine our morals. Who’s attractive and who’s not, whether or not a celebrity (that we don’t know at all by the way) is a bad person or parent or even what’s right and what’s wrong in society. If I don’t agree with the masses on social media, I could be looked at as an outsider and would be in danger of my character being attacked.
Social media has been taken to another level, and will only continue its excessiveness; it’s up to the individual to decipher whether it is getting to the point where life is just not enjoyable without it. I challenge you to go to a concert without recording any of it on your phone. We see teenagers and adults alike with their phones in the air.
Go on a date with a loved one [or someone new] and put your phone away until the date is over. Try to actually talk to someone face to face without being awkward. Take a break from social media, and improve your social life. (Quote source here.)
Social media has often taken the “human” out of being human. Combine our massive social media consumption with all the other “stuff” on TV and in the movies that passes for entertainment, and we become downright self-obsessed in our approach to others outside of our own circle of family and friends (and maybe even inside that circle, too). We treat others like “digital entities” instead of living, breathing human beings with feelings and emotions and all the other things that make us human to each other. Can we get any more self-absorbed? (Don’t answer that.)
Now, before you think I’m not a techie fan, I am. In fact, I’ve been involved with technology since the 1980’s. However, due to a job loss eight years ago that left me perpetually unemployed I haven’t had the financial resources to keep up with all of latest in techie gadgets, and due to no longer being engaged in a workplace where I had been actively involved with students, faculty, staff and administrators, I didn’t realize how much all that techie stuff has impacted our communication skills since I lost that job. To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, here’s a recent example from my own life.
About about a month ago I was eating lunch in a grocery store that has a space carved out for shoppers to take a breather in a fenced in area with a bunch of very small tables and chairs, a couple of couches, and an HDTV set mounted on the wall. As I sat down at one of the table to eat my lunch, three younger men (who were not together) entered this eating area and each sat down at three separate tables, and each immediately pulled out their smartphones and were soon immersed in whatever they were looking at on their smartphones. They weren’t eating or doing anything other than being totally immersed in their phones. An older man entered the area and sat down at another table. I’d guess he might be in his late 60’s, and I’d guess that three younger guys were probably age 40 or younger. The interesting thing about this older man was that he had a newspaper with him, and a sack lunch, and when he sat down he began eating his lunch and reading the newspaper. There was no smartphone out on his table (although I’m sure he owned one) to distract him. As I look around at these four men, if I had the chance to engage any of them in a conversation, I’d pick the guy reading the newspaper over the three younger guys totally immersed in their smartphones. For one thing, I wouldn’t have the constant competition of a smartphone interrupting my conversation with the older guy; whereas the younger guys would be distracted by their smartphones and most likely not engaging in any kind of meaningful conversation.
Here’s another example. Allstate is currently running an ad on TV that I just love and it really does say it all about our massive consumption of social media at the expense of human interaction with each other. While the ad is advertising Allstate’s Safe Driving Bonus checks, the message in the commercial is a clear sign of the times in which we live. Click here to view the commercial and see if you don’t agree. It’s almost scary at times to imagine what society will look like twenty years from now when the younger generations who have been raised with social media at their fingertips since they came out of womb are a primary force in changing the world. It is unfortunate that one of the biggest drawbacks to the digital world is that it makes us capable of being far less human to each other.
The impact of social media on relationships is the subject of many articles on the internet. In fact, when I went looking for an article to quote for this blog post, I perused so many different articles that it was hard to find just one that succinctly stated the main issues surrounding social media and it’s effects on our relationships whether romantic relationships or family relationships or friendships, and many cited trust issues at the core of the problem.
I did settle on one article by Jen Soule, a Millennial contributor on EliteDaily.com, who wrote an article titled, “How Social Media is Killing Relationships and Making Our Breakups Even Worse.” She tells it like it is in a way I never could . . . and here is what she had to say:
Social media is single-handedly breaking up couples everywhere. It’s also making breakups more painful, more drawn out and more public.
Who wants that?
Here are eight reasons you should lay off the social media if you don’t want to ruin your relationship and suffer a breakup that’s even worse than it should be.
1. It’s distracting us from actually spending time together.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been out at a bar or restaurant and I see couples on their phones.
Maybe it’s a first date that isn’t going well, or maybe there’s a huge news story going on that I’m missing out on. But most likely, you’re just ignoring each other.
We are all addicted to our phones and soon, we may actually forget how to meet people in real life.
We are in constant contact with one another whether it’s texting, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or some other outlet. We always know what our friends, family and acquaintances are doing.
2. We’re stalking each other.
Why bother having a conversation with someone when you’ve already crept their Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat story, and blog?
At this point you already know everything you need to know, right?
And that’s before you go into how we all stalk our exes. . . .
3. We’re oversharing.
Part of being in a relationship is being able to share things with each other that we may not share with anyone else.
Now that we have social media, people are telling everyone literally everything about their life.
4. We’re becoming addicted to attention.
You’re lying to yourself if you don’t get pumped when you reach a new all time high on likes on your latest Instagram post.
All the notifications, comments, likes, and follows are making our brains addicted to attention. We’re looking for the newest way to get engagements on our social media instead of being happy with just the attention in our relationships.
5. Tinder exists.
Tinder launched and we started being able to connect with someone at the swipe of a finger.
A couple tough days in a relationship can lead to curiosity, which leads to wandering, which leads to actually matching with someone and maybe even meeting up with them.
Apps like Tinder have made it too easy to stray from a relationship when things get tough, instead of communicating and working through whatever the problem is.
And there are studies that say Tinder is ruining our self-esteem.
6. We compare our relationships to others.
Just because a couple posts a picture on a beach at sunset does not mean they have a perfect relationship.
Anyone can post a cute picture with their significant other on social media. It doesn’t mean their relationship is better than yours, so stop comparing the two.
7. We jump to conclusions.
Just because your boyfriend’s or girlfriend’s ex liked their Instagram picture doesn’t mean they’re seeing each other behind your back. It also does not mean they are falling in love all over again.
A lot of people can’t let go of the past and social media allows them to continue feeling connected.
A lot of people also like to create drama. Liking a picture, commenting on a post or even following or friending them will do just that. When we see two people connect on social media, we often jump to conclusions even though in reality, it’s unlikely that they ever even speak.
8. We focus on strangers’ lives rather than our own.
It’s hard to focus on ourselves when there are so many people sharing every single problem and achievement they have on social media.
We are starting to live vicariously through travel blogs and posts, instead of actually traveling ourselves. We’re watching other people experience life through our computer and phone screens instead of living in the moment of our own lives.
Sad, right? Get off your phone and start talking to the person who’s in front of you. Your relationship will thank you for it. (Quote source here.)
Ms. Soule said it better than I could, and she’s a part of the generations that have been raised on social media from the womb. At least I’m old enough to have a perspective that comes way before social media took over our lives and became the latest addiction. And when it comes to romantic relationships, give me Mr. “Tuff Enuff” any day of the week over a guy who’s smartphone is considered just another appendage like a third arm. Who needs that anyway, eh? And a romantic relationship doesn’t need the whole world’s involvement or any unnecessary competition from the digital world, either.
I have to admit when I first started this blog post I didn’t think it would be on the subject of social media, but then social media really has transformed our relationships and our lives sometimes not for the better. It’s an addiction we should learn to take a break from periodically (the YouTube Video below gives some examples) if it’s not already too late. I don’t keep my smartphone on when I’m not using it. I can’t imagine anything being so important that I have to keep it on 24/7. But then I’m from an older generation, too.
In this instant access, high tech world we live in today, maybe it would be good if we all took a breather. . . .
To stop and smell the roses . . .
Or talk . . .
To a neighbor . . . .
YouTube Video: “How social media makes us unsocial” by Allison Graham, TEDxSMU: