Poor Connection – the Paradox of Social Media in Real Life

Social media is like the manipulative relationship that both builds you up and breaks you down – you love it and you hate it all at once. Users enjoy having their time to unwind in front of a screen, yet fear wasting their time in a fake reality. It can connect friends from across the world, or it can make two people standing in front of each other feel miles apart.

“I find myself self constantly checking Twitter when there’s a lull in the conversation. It’s weird, but I mindlessly just check it instead of trying to interact with the person in front of me,” said Elise Monroe, a first year Graphic Communications major at Cal Poly.

So, social media can act as a social crutch. And it’s not much help in creating new relationships either, “Because of interactions I’ve had with people online before I’ve met them, it makes meeting them in real life weirder, like there’s already an expectation there,” said Monroe.

But, the same people also make a conscious effort to wean themselves off of the social support. “I don’t feel addicted to my phone because I’m aware of it. But if I wasn’t reminded by my mom and didn’t care so much about taking breaks… yeah, I would be addicted,” said Monroe.

On the day she was interviewed, Monroe had spent one hour and 37 minutes on social media (an hour and four minutes of which were using Twitter), 19 minutes on education (watching a TED Talk), and eight minutes on what Apple calls “productivity,” meaning she was checking her email. These stats are courtesy of her iPhone settings, which now measure screen time.

According to Media in Society, by Richard Campbell and Joli Jenson*, “This love-hate relationship with technology marks one key paradox of contemporary society. We are nostalgic for the pace of the past at the same time we drive headlong into the future, overloaded by our gadgets.

*Campbell, Richard; Jensen, Joli; Gomery, Douglas; Fabos, Bettina G.; Frechette, Julie. Media in Society (Page 252). Bedford/St. Martin’s. Kindle Edition.

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