Is social media making us anti-social?

Is social media making us  anti-social?

Social MediaABOUT 25 percent of people surveyed by the Financial Gazette‘s Companies & Markets (C&M) recently said they had missed witnessing important moments because they were too busy sharing aspects of their lives on their favourite social networks. The more one is on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook communicating about what they are doing, then the less that they are actually paying attention to other important events taking place around them. Modern technology has greatly benefited many people in the way they do business and transact.

In Zimbabwe, the past five years, social media has worked its way into the daily lives of millions of people around the country with about 12 million subscribers registered on the country’s three mobile networks — NetOne, Telecel and Econet.  People can now contact their friends and family from mobile phones, laptops or ipads.  People can talk in a video call or share photos and videos in seconds. Now they can start relationships and end them on social media. We may feel that we are being more sociable than ever before but is it not making us antisocial to those around us?

People’s huge love of social media cannot be denied. The speed with which it has wormed its way into our daily lives is astounding. And there is absolutely no doubt that social media is here to stay. Mobile phone, computer and internet technology has revolutionised the way we process information and do business too. More people today rely on information from the internet and their phones. However, there is a negative side of technology. We are increasingly becoming isolated from each other because of a false sense of connection. E-mails, mobile phones and social media are valuable methods of communicating information. But do we not need to meet with people face to face so that we can truly connect?

You are likely to have seen it yourself at a party, dinners, awards or wedding, a number of people will be stuck to the screens of their phones, interacting with someone not in the room. They are being social but just not with the people they are with. The danger here is that we start losing touch with the people in our lives because we simply do not get off the phone and give the other person our time and attention. The question then is: Is technology making us more sociable or more antisocial? Does it divide or unite modern people? What attracts you to social media? What worries you about it? How are you using it?

“Social media is amazing. It connects the world and empowers us all to make better decisions about our lives. But if you take things too far it can come at a cost,” said David Muyambo, a student with a local university, on Facebook. Globally, it is estimated that almost two in five people spend more time socialising online than they do face-to-face.

“Honestly, I think it distracts people too easily. My boyfriend constantly checks his cell phone, and Facebook updates during dates, and other social fun events. Being in a room with someone who always is on their cell phone for me is hard to try to fight for their attention all the time when you are being constantly ignored,” responded a girl who preferred to be called Jane on Twitter.

She said it appeared people nowadays rely on technology too much to focus on what’s really important in their lives than texting.  “I do not think it is being anti social, I think it is more of an over addiction to being social. They have a need to know everything and talk to everyone at once. It is rude, but unfortunately with these people, unless they realise it themselves it is not worth the fight,” said Julian Zembe another university student.

It is striking how quickly we have embraced and adapted to new technology and social media. They have changed our world in ways too numerous to count. Unfortunately, those changes are not always for the better.  Amid all the buzz and innovation, very few experts have taken a step back to look at how social media and technology are changing us. In spite of all the positive ways they helps us connect, they also have a way of cheating us out of more complete experiences.

Applications on mobile devices — are they turning us into anti-social individuals? How many applications are there now? There is no point in counting, as more will be created before the day is out. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram or FourSquare are many of the current forms of social networking mobile applications turning us into a group of anti-social individuals, lacking the proper social skills.

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