Is Social Media Really Killing Our Social Skills?

Is Social Media Really Killing Our Social Skills?

I’m working out with my friend at the gym today when I began to notice that he was frequently looking at his phone while he was supposed to spot me. At lunch, I noticed that his hand lingered towards his phone while he was reading the menu, checking every few minutes if a new notification(s) had appeared. A force of habit maybe or a mental conditioning, after years of scrolling through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter on his handheld device. As millennials, we have grown up in a society saturated by the media and for the greater bulk of Gen Y; our online voice outweighs our spoken voice. This has created a culture where the artistry of our food now merits a photo, filter and hashtags over our ability of interpersonal skills.

Thanks to the likes of social media, our capability to contact our friends who live long distance is a mere touch away. But lets face it – we’re comfortable. Face-to-face is fine, but sitting behind a computer where we can edit our replies is perfect and this has created an illusion of our wanted selves. When talking to an attractive female in person, I’m a clumsy Michael Cera imbued with a touch of Jonah Hill from Superbad. Online, I can edit and revise my words to appear as a modern-day Don Juan. We hide behind the securities of our online social selves to protect us from the discomfort of awkward face-to-face conversations. Possibly dissolving any factors of dialogue such as a person’s tone, which adds a greater depth to the exchange. So next time you want to have a deep conversation, try calling instead of IMing, you might not regret it.

The last time when you had dinner, did you or one of your friends check-in? Did you or your friends take a quick snap of the meal being served? Did you or they write a quirky caption and hashtag to accompany the snap? Finally did you or they continue to refresh Instagram or Facebook to see how many people liked the photo alongside the quirky caption and hashtag. While Gen X may complain that Gen Y is too invested in their online personas, we have created the product where we can’t stop and focus on one action. Instead of embracing those around us, we’re consumed with validating our online profiles. If we’re not sidetracked by what’s outside the box, we’re too busy attempting to seize it on social media.

Like the synopsis of an Orwellian dystopia where society has lost its ability of proper grammar thanks to an external entity, social media has lowered the bar for our generation to type a proper and punctual sentence. We could easily guilt auto-correct as the condemned, but we can only blame ourselves. In a society where the maximum usage of words is 140 or less, and the abbreviations of “Laughing out loud” has become so common, we may have overlooked how to properly articulate ourselves in a professional manner. Spell check has become our confidant causing us to email, post and message without capitalisation and punctuation.

As a generation, we have achieved some pretty impressive trademarks.

– We’re widely accepting of all kinds of people, regardless of creed, color or orientation.
– We’re the entrepreneur generation. We aren’t afraid to follow our dreams, start a new company and even quit our day job.
– Couples are more progressive, as women take on the role of the breadwinner while men are beginning to switch as the stay at home dad.
– Most of all, we’re tech-savvy.

But while we may boast as the most progressive generation so far, we must continue to hone our social skills to avoid being awash in a world of mediocrity.