By GEORGIA I. SALVARYN
Technology and social media is slowly diminishing interpersonal communication. Nowadays, almost everyone, young and old, is connected to the internet through some device and that can create a problem.
According to the Teens, Social Media, & Technology Overview 2015 article by the Pew Research Center on pewinternet.org, 24 percent of teens go online “almost constantly,” facilitated by the widespread availability of smartphones.
The article also states that 92 percent of teens report going online daily, including the 24 percent of teens who say they go online “almost constantly.”
There are more and more people staring at their phone screens rather than paying attention to and interacting with others around them. This loss of face to face communication can lead to social anxiety and awkwardness in generations now and generations to come.
The Pew Research Center states that 71 percent of American teenagers between ages 13 to 17 use more than one social network site. About 56 percent of these teens go online several times a day, and 12 percent report once-a-day use. Just 6 percent of teens report going online weekly, and 2 percent go online less often.
To gather some insight and information, I asked retired Sociology CCC professor Frank Phillips III a few questions about social interaction and the affects of technology and social media.
Q: Do you believe technology will increase social anxiety and awkwardness over time?
A: “Without a doubt I think there will be a degree of anxiety over time,” Phillips stated. “The quality of social interaction has to be somewhat diminished when you are not face to face with the person you are engaging with.”
Phillips also commented on how interacting with other people makes a person who they are; “If we didn’t need other people, they wouldn’t be on Earth,” he laughed. “People tend to make us human. In reality, people make you sane.”
Q: Do you know the movie Wall-E? Do you believe society will transform into “technology zombies” in the distant future?
A: “I will always argue that change is always inevitable, but everything comes in a cycle.” Phillips adds that being a human being means to be a social animal; we need social interaction.
Q: Why are people so attached to their technology and social media?
A: Technology is a generational thing. Those who are accustomed to [technology] are the generations who grew up with technology. Technology allows people to have more access to information and will change us more because with the help of technology and social media, we can reach over distances and interact with others around the world.
Q: How does social media affect our self-esteem, health, and social skills?
A: Media allows us to set an agenda and a trend. Dominant groups have the tendency to want to maintain a status that puts them in an advantage. Therefore, dominant groups influence those who follow them.
Technology and social media can be helpful and harmful, depending on how often it’s used and how individual people use it, but technology overall is dominating interpersonal communication. We have become “wi-fi zombies.”