Well, This Is Awkward

BY JESSICA MONZO, Staff Writer

Everyone knows the generic saying that the elderly have about “youngsters”. “Back in my day…” “When I was your age…” “You kids and your fancy technology…”. How much of a difference is there between today’s millennials and the generations that came before us? Social interactions are probably the biggest difference.

Today’s millennials interact with each other differently because of the recent advancements in technology. Technology continues to make it easier every day to interact with each other within seconds. Between 4G phone networks, social media, and texting, we now communicate faster now than ever, but we also have less face-to-face interactions. Less face-to-face interactions could also lead to more social anxiety and social awkwardness due to the convenience of having more time to reply to messages, and thinking about the benefits of consequences of what to say.

Justine Harman from Elle.com wrote an article called “How Social Media is Ruining My Social Skills”. In her article, she is quoted as saying “For all of its many merits, social media is making even the most well-adjusted of us just a tad bit creepier. I can’t keep track of how many times I’ve asked a question I already knew the answer to.” In a web video interview by Alena Hall, from Huffington post, Harman says social media is “the death of an actual civilized conversations” and that “we can feel it inside, that something’s wrong.”

When did this reliance on a textualized social interaction begin being a problem? It’s difficult to tell since the social anxiety and awkwardness has never been an obvious problem. It seems that we, as social beings, adapted our way of socializing in a negative way without being fully conscious of it. Now, when we break a phone or are not able to pay our phone bills, we freak out because we are addicted to these tiny handheld screens, and the social security they give us. They are now habit and a way of life, whereas 10 years ago, we only had very basic phones, primarily used for phone calls, and not everyone felt the need to have one.

Now, when someone doesn’t use a cell phone, or social media, they are viewed as “odd” or “different”, just because they are not addicted to distanced, computerized social interactions. Another issue is that it’s very difficult to tell if these technological interactions are genuine or not. Also, it is easy to take a textual conversation out of context. For example, if a person simply replies “Ok” in text, the other party may feel as though this reply was short or contrite, whereas the person who sent said text may just be busy, or not know what else to reply.

So what can we do about this socially awkward situation? Well, some have come up with a game where if you go to a restaurant with friends or family, everyone puts their phones upside down in a stack, and whoever reaches for their phone first, has to pick up the check. Maybe we should start limiting our time on our phones by not having them in reach as easily as we do now. Ladies, leave your phones in your purses more often. Gentleman, put your phones in your pockets and trying not to look at them every 10 minutes. Maybe if we try to get back to the physical world now, we can prevent so much social awkwardness in future generations.

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