I’m sure I’m not the only one who happens to have a family member or friend who is seemingly tweeting 23 hours a day. I always wonder how they manage this impossible feat, and also quietly groan at the fact my timeline is polluted with these incessant 140 character messages about…nothing. So why do I follow them, you ask? Well, I guess it’s not the right protocol when it comes to social media to ‘unfollow’ a good friend or worse even, a family member – though this hasn’t stopped me in the past.
So let’s get to my real twitter issues. These 140 measly characters have given our current generation a sense of empowerment and entitlement that is so unearned. We have countless 15 year-olds walking around with the Blackberries and iPhones, heads down, thumbs busy, giving the world a piece of their minds, – and when I say a piece, I mean every single ridiculous, pointless and unnecessary thought that comes across them – yet these kids are unable to raise their heads to say hello to someone, or better yet look someone in the eyes. They feel like there is power in being able to share their every fleeting thought when all it requires is a few movements with their opposables, but are socially inept when physically faced with another human being.
The fact that 9-year olds have Facebook and Twitter accounts means this lack of real social interaction starts at a such a young age that by the time this generation is required to get a *GULP* job (and believe me, I could write a lengthy blog just on teenagers and their job expectations, but let’s save that for another day), the assumption will be that all they need to do is put more words on a screen, transfer them onto paper, and BAM, the job is theirs. “What…? Shake someone’s hand? But how and why on earth would one do that?” — Seriously, I am waiting for the day I see a blank stare from a kid as I extend my hand out to him or her!
It is so unfortunate that technology is doing such a disservice to our youth when it has the potential (and often the ability) to teach, connect, enlighten, etc. I can’t help but feel like a bitter old lady as I have these thoughts. “Kids these days…” as I shake my wrinkly finger in the air. Perhaps it’s the educator in me, but I just wish for more for the future generations: more physical and personal connections, more than believing there’s no better way to express oneself, and more than looking at a device and never seeing the world around them. I wish for less virtual connections, less self doubt, and less dependance on something that cannot actually give or show love.
The real problem is not the teenagers – the problem is the misuse of social media, so let this not be a post about me hating on teens! My displeasure is entirely towards the negative impact they have, as I have outlined in the above rant.
I know what you’re thinking right about now…”but don’t YOU have a Twitter account?” Well yes, and you can follow me @ThalitaMurray. The big, big, BIG differences between me using Twitter, Facebook and a blog and a teenager doing the same are that I am not using social media as the only way to express my thoughts, connect with my friends and know about the world in general. With that being said, I do regrettably know adults who have already been negatively affected in the same way as most of today’s North American youth. Let me give you an example: I see someone I know at the gym while working out, we make eye contact, I begin to put up my hand to wave when she quickly lowers her eyes and darts in another direction. This has me thinking this person dislikes me or maybe I have done something to offend her. That same evening I see a tweet, an Instagram “like” and a Facebook wall post with “Hey! Cool seeing you at the gym today! xoxo”. Huh?!? Did I miss something? I would much rather have exchanged waves and possibly had a quick chat in person than the weird and random virtual exchanges that came after.
Am I alone here? Does anyone else think our generation and future ones run a risk of losing personal relationships, and essentially a huge part of making real connections with people and their communities? I’d love to hear some other people’s thoughts on this.
My rant is over… for now!