Are We Truly Connected?

Everybody has cell phones now, or at least knows how to operate one. Everybody has Facebook or Twitter accounts now, or so it seems. Billions of people all over the world are signed into social media anyway, and that feels like ‘everybody’.

Communication today is done through SMS, MMS, e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, IM, SKYPE, etc., that there is hardly any need for people to actually meet in person. This new way of connecting with our friends, family and other people is undoubtedly convenient, cheaper and sometimes, the only way to really reach out. However, despite all these upsides, the question still linger – are we really connected?

Communication wise, there’s no doubt about it. But is it enough to text? Or send e-mail? Or video chat? If a loved one is abroad or miles away, it’s understandable these are the only means of bridging the gap. However, won’t the gap just widen if you rely too much on social media and SMS to connect with friends who are within the same city or only a few hours of bus-ride away?

I for myself have realized that I am no longer as connected with friends as I used to. I remember before FB or Twitter, I and my friends always find time to meet up in places and go to movies or have a stroll in the park for street food trips. Today however, those things only happen once in a blue moon!

Social media sites like Facebook also make you know more about other people than you ought to! I have friends on my FB account I don’t even know but it feels like you do because you have 50 or so similar friends. People share their pictures indiscriminately on these social media sites that you actually know what they prepared for Christmas or what they wore when they went to Boracay or whatever.

These are things you don’t actually give a damn about but are forced into you! And sometimes, it gets to a point that it feels like you are snooping on people and you actually feel guilty. The funny part is, you can’t get yourself to close your social media account because you think this is the only way you can stay connected to people you care about. And neither will you ‘unfriend’ those people you are totally unrelated to.

One thing I noticed about social media sites is the ‘popularity metre’. It seems that the more friends or followers you have, the more likable a person you are. People with less than 100 friends or followers are generally regarded as bores or snobs. Is this cruel? No, it’s only human nature!

Technology has indeed made everybody’s life a lot easier. Too easy in fact that things like communication are now taken for granted. It’s your friend’s birthday today so you posted a greeting on her status or page. You feel good about yourself because you are one of the first ones to greet her. But did you stop to think that if you weren’t reminded by the social media site that ‘It’s your friend’s birthday today’ and that you should ‘write on her wall’, will you have remembered? Will she be happy that she got 250 people greeting her ‘Happy Birthday’, 200 virtual cards and cakes but only got 3 actual, tangible presents?

Milestones too are shared online mainly. Pregnant? Post it on your wall. First baby boy? Post it on your wall. Promoted? Post it on your wall. Earned your first million? Post it on your wall. Engaged? Divorced? Had an accident? Almost died? Etc. Post it on your wall! Emotions, rants, opinions, everything are posted on pages, blogs and social media walls.

This is how we now communicate or connect with others. This method has also emboldened a lot of people because the internet can shroud a person’s identity so anyone can say anything on the World Wide Web now. You can bully someone, you can abuse your boss, you can commit a cyber crime and you can get away with it! That is how this new mode of communication has empowered us and made it possible for us to stoop down to the lowest possible level!

This present day method of connecting with other people is not all bad, however it is not entirely good. I’m just saying, it’s beneficial to revert to the old ways of communicating once in a while. It’s healthy for your relationship anyway.

The next time your friend is celebrating a birthday, why don’t you greet her personally? It’ll be nice to hand her a card either handmade or store-bought or just meet up and reminisce about the old days.

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About harriet_chan

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