This may come as a surprise to some and as a disappointment to others, but I’m a pretty low-tech guy. My phone is not, and never has been, smart. I don’t text-message daily. I don’t even own an iPod.
It’s not that I’m afraid of technology or intimidated by it. Through my professional association, I was using social media a decade before it was called social media (IABC/Hyperspace, anyone?). I understand how to use technology for more effective communication and I’m confident I could help any client figure out what tools are right for their unique situation.
I have a Facebook page, which I mostly use to keep up with friends, and I have a Twitter account, which I use exclusively for business purposes. And, of course, I engage with readers of this blog.
It’s simply that I choose not to be any more tethered to technology than I already am. I see no compelling reason to be. My business is doing well after 10 years and my life is full. I choose to connect with the people in my life in more meaningful ways than I believe technology allows. I believe nothing really replaces face-to-face interaction when it comes to quality of communication. I enjoy using Facebook to keep up with more than 200 of my friends, but if Facebook went away tomorrow, I’d find other ways to stay in touch with those to whom I am closest.
I read about a study (through a colleague’s tweet) that found college students are “addicted” to the instantaneous information and connections that social media provide. Participants reported on how they felt when they gave up all media for 24 hours. “University of Maryland researchers conclude that most college students are not just unwilling, but functionally unable to be without their media links to the world,” according to a story on LiveScience.com.
“Texting and IM-ing my friends gives me a constant feeling of comfort,” one student reported. “When I did not have those two luxuries, I felt quite alone and secluded from my life. Although I go to a school with thousands of students, the fact that I was not able to communicate with anyone via technology was almost unbearable.”
In a separate but somewhat related blog comment today, my friend David Murray laments: “I am not made ‘uncomfortable’ by change. I am made sad and deeply worried by a society that’s increasingly connected by electrical cords alone.”
I’ve written before that I believe social media are robbing the next generation of social skills. We’re losing the ability to be truly present with the people around us — not distracted by media, not constantly texting others, but to be there in the moment.
But what is disturbing about this study is how despondent the students felt when they were connected to no one but themselves. I am an extrovert — I draw energy from being around other people — but even I value my alone time. We need time to think, to reflect, to face ourselves in an honest internal conversation. We need meditation, free time for our minds to wander and to create new thoughts.
We need time to disconnect.
Filed under: Back to the Basics, Social Media, Uncategorized | Tagged: David Murray, Facebook, IABC/Hyperspace, IMs, iPod, LiveScience, smart phone, Social Media, social skills, text messages, Twitter, University of Maryland |