Social media is sweeping across the nation transforming the way we communicate and paving the way for new communities. Thanks to social media, people can tweet, share and blog their way into success. No matter the distance, strangers are capable of socializing with each other and connecting over mutual interests. On Facebook, popularity is measured by the amount of friends and likes a user receives. My brother, with “friends” reaching over three hundred, has only met a hundred of them. Of those, he only keeps in touch with a handful.
Statistics and common sense prove that these are not real friends. These “bonds” are merely a means to feel popular and create an alternate personality. However, are these digital forms of communication deteriorating the worth of face-to-face relationships?
The conclusion to this popular debate is very alarming. Studies have found that people who spend more time online exhibit decreased levels of empathy, self-esteem and desires for communication. In fact, when faced with a decision to socialize in-person or online, a study concluded that about 11% of adults prefer communicating on their phone. This is a petrifying statistic when realizing that humans rely on interpersonal communication in order to meet their fundamental needs. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs reminds us that, in order to achieve full potential, we must develop deep friendships and feel love. Studies reveal that 93% of our connections are forged through nonverbal body language. Staring at a computer screen, devoid of any emotion, does not create these essential bonds.
Author Joe Robinson sheds a rather grim light on the future of socialization; ” We are less likely to join groups, […]more likely to live alone. We get so used to dealing with people via e-mail or online that we forget how to function around live humans.” Sure, our generation is often stereotyped as one who cannot make eye contact, cannot hold meaningful conversations, and struggle against laziness. However, these troubles pale in comparison to our future problems with friendships. If we cannot begin to value interpersonal communication as a catalyst to relationships, we will never gain satisfaction. Our lives will begin to shrivel without the satisfaction of daily interactions with other humans.