Social media has made the world more connected than ever but in an ironic twist, as a society we may have become more disconnected. Anyone can now rant on Twitter about Brexit, or share umpteen cat videos on Instagram, and perhaps get involved in a hefty debate about their local council on Facebook… but is this fulfilling us? Or are we just shouting into the abyss?
Children are now growing up with technology at their disposal, and use it every day. Books are an option rather than the only choice in both education and for leisure time. I challenge anyone to go without using technology for a considerable amount of time: it can be done, but it’s tough. You’ll hit brick walls in both a social and professional capacity. You’re reading this online, you’ve most probably checked your phone several times today, and will continue to do so until you rest your weary head.
According to Ofcom we check our phones every 12 minutes, with 64% of people asked saying that a constant internet connection was an ‘essential part of their life.’ According to the same study only 17% of us owned a smartphone 10 years ago, compared to the whopping 78% who do now - that’s quite a technological leap.
Changing attitudes towards social media
Everyone has insecurities and worries, and we wouldn’t be human without them, seeing a constant conveyor belt of highlights from other people’s lives on social platforms can heighten these insecurities and make you feel as though your life needs to be glossier than a magazine. However, the times might be changing because in 2018 there was a mass exodus from different social media platforms led by Generation Z, who are supposedly the most ‘tech savvy’ generation. The reason being that it was making them feel unhappy and experiencing a ‘digital overload’.
When you consider that three billion people (which is around 40%) of the world’s population use online social media, of which we are spending an average of two hours everyday. Is this normal, or might it be becoming the new normal?
The pub chain Samuel Smith has recently announced a ban on using a mobile phone within their bars up and down the country, and if you want to use your phone for browsing, texting or speaking you should treat it as if you were smoking and go outside. This new policy is being loosely enforced currently, but if momentum grows it will get stricter. The overall aim is to re-establish pubs as a place of conversation and socialising, and that means face-to-face communication. One of the pub managers disagrees: "It’s an intrinsic part of modern society and that may be an issue, but it’s not one for Sam Smiths to solve.”
Social media has been connected to making those who use it unhappy, which can lead to anxiety or depression when used frequently, or taken too seriously. In the same Generation Z study that was mentioned above, it was reported that 41% of the 1,000 people asked chose to quit social media usage in an attempt to relieve the anxiety and/or depression that they saw creeping in.
Nowadays, how likely are you to talk through a challenge or question you don’t know the answer to? Are you more likely to just Google the answer? It could be affecting the way you retain memory and information. While it’s fantastic to be able to have a mine of information at your fingertips, it’s causing us to be more distracted, less present and less able to focus at the standard we used to.
In your work environment, do people usually have their phones on show? A recent survey showed that only 6% of managers said it was ‘ok’ to have a phone out during a meeting, leaving 94% of managers believing it should only be used for emergencies.