Communication is a powerful thing. The way we communicate can give away so much about who we are. Are we communicating positively? Are we speaking in a tone that will cause a simple innocent sentence to come across in a way that will anger someone? Are we being empathetic, or sympathetic? Are we being judgemental? Are we being condescending?
Now that there are so many forms of social media we are communicating in a completely different way than ever before. E-mails have taken the place of snail mail. Texts have taken the place of a quick chat. Even this very thing you’re reading normally would have been a ‘Dear Diary’ situation. Are we all just caught in the web?
I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing. It’s convenient, that’s for sure, but the Chinese whispers that can happen, and the text that can be taken the wrong way can cause monumental problems.
For example, take a simple sentence like ‘Are you serious?’
Are they legitimately asking if you’re being earnest and sincere? Are they angry? Are they asking in disbelief? How are we to know? Emoji’s apparently. We are relying on little yellow faces to express our cyber emotions. That’s a lot of pressure to put on a guy that is most of the time, just a floating head.
Are we avoiding actual confrontation and conversation by bypassing physical human interaction, and hoping that a text will be enough? ‘I saw that you were talking to another woman on Facebook. You’re cheating on me!’ – BAM just like that a relationship is broken. I mean, that relationship clearly had more issues than text-talking, but it sure didn’t help.
Are we missing vital information about someones mental state by not picking up the phone and listening for warning sounds, and instead relying on a tweet saying ‘Having an awesome day, I’m in a really good place!’? Are we able to give more support by having the ability to flick someone a Facebook message at any time, day or night, just to check in?
The upside to social media of course is that we have the option to speak with people from all around the globe, sometimes about things that we may not be able to talk about in person. We can ‘meet’ people experiencing similar things – pregnancy, health issues, how not to pull your hair out through the ‘threenager’ stage. We can make real, genuine friendships through Facebook groups. We can also win competitions, we can see art, we can hear music, watch videos, read poems, write about love, lust, tragedy, betrayal and death.
We can follow the journey’s of our school classmates – friends, enemies, frenimies, exes and teachers. We see break-ups, make-ups, engagements, marriages, children being born, losses, struggles, new homes, cars, endorsements, travels, and career advances, changes and dead ends.
We wish people we don’t even like a ‘very happy birthday’. We say a mass ‘Merry Christmas!’ Why? Is it friendly, or just the done thing now?
The Internet has so much control. Our Facebook accounts, Twitter feeds, Instagram pictures, they all chronicle our lives, but at what cost? Are we sharing too much? Is it a matter of need or want? ‘Check out my dinner!’, ‘My battery is dying I’ll be out of action for ten minutes while I drive from work to home and charge up’, ‘Like for a tbh’. It seems excessive. Does anyone actually care that I drank my coffee before I ate my weet-bix this morning? Does anyone actually read my blog? Does it help anyone or am I simply doing this by means of catharsis? Does it really matter?
For me, the Internet is, for the most part, a positive thing. I love my blog. I love sharing my successes and struggles. I love hearing that people can relate to what I’m going through, that I’m not alone. It’s relaxing and freeing, and also a really good kind of terrifying because I’m putting myself out there to be judged by the general public, my family, and my friends. I love the support that I’ve gotten from people that I least expected.
I love Facebook. I love that I can contact people at the drop of a hat. I love that I can share photos of my gorgeous children (yes, I’m one of those annoying people who spams your wall with ‘Look, my kid is eating a piece of bread!’ #sorrynotsorry). I love that I can buy (actually that ones a love/hate). I love that I can sell. I love that I can join groups, follow pages, give and receive advice, share ideas, laugh at drawings from children that are completely innocent but look completely rude and hilarious (like the dad with the phallus looking chef’s hat). I love that I can open my news feed and see all the things you can clean with vinegar and bi-carb.
I love that I can Google a thousand different ways to make a toasted cheese sandwich. I love watching pregnancy announcements, gender reveals, soldiers coming home, cooking videos, and clips showing the noise that a giraffe makes on Youtube. I love spamming Instagram with pictures that I had hoped would come out looking all artsy and unique, but instead just look like my kid, looking orange from a bad filter choice, staring at a piece of toast because I’m making him wait to pose for a picture before he can eat it – oops. I won’t go as far as to say that I love Twitter…yet. I have a like for it. It’s okay-ish. I don’t think I really get it. I suppose that’s ok though because after you read my next paragraph it will be clear to you that I should probably just leave Twitter to all of the ‘Twits’ that beat me to it.
I don’t like that I feel powerless without the Internet. I don’t like that I need my phone near me. I don’t like that I have to have my phone on the bathroom counter while I’m showering. I really don’t like that I’d probably answer it if someone rang while I was in there. I don’t like that I can’t seem to switch off. I really, really can’t stand the horrible example that I’m setting for my children.
And I know I’m not alone.
So how do we stop? Is it a ‘cold turkey’ type of deal? Should we set ourselves time limits for technology like we do our children? Should we have specific ‘tech times’? I really don’t know, but I hate that I even need to consider any of the above.
Sometimes I wish I could relive a day pre-technology. Maybe I should try? On a weekend. When my husband is there to talk me off a ledge (I kid, mostly).
When did it get so bad? When did we forget to switch off, so that we can be more switched on?
Can you relate to this? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
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