On one of Saturday Night Live’s classic sketches (SNL – for you millennials), Linda Richmond, played by Mike Meyers, hosts “Coffee Talk” (Pronounced Cawfee Tawk). In the show, Linda and friends discuss their “dogs, daughters” and life in general. “No big whoop.” The talk often gets emotionally charged to the point of where Linda has to take a “time-out” because she is “verklempt.” Translation: emotionally spent.
It’s hard to imagine an exchange in an internet chat room, or discussion board reaching that emotional state. Or is it? Political or personal chats and blogs can get highly charged, even crossing lines of civility, judging from the escalating language I see on Facebook, twitter and other social media sites.
It begs the question: Has the internet and social media made us more or less social? More or less “human?” These were questions raised in our most recent class, and it takes some examination to reach a conclusion.
Grab a “cuppa cawffee” and let’s discuss.
What could be more social than having access to a network of friends 24/7 where you can ask questions, share your thoughts and perspectives on just about anything on your mind? You can decide to chat with a confidante, a group of close friends or hold an open discussion with hundreds and thousands on Facebook. Society is at your fingertips. Right?
Well, some would argue that true connection with friends only happens in person, on a human level, where you can see, touch, understand and judge the feelings being expressed. How often have emails or IM’s been misinterpreted, causing you to react entirely differently than you might have in person? And have you ever had dinner with someone who’s constantly texting and checking emails on their cell phone? What could be more annoying or disrespectful? Suddenly that person in cyberspace is more important than the one sharing your real space. Also, the echo chamber effect on media sharing sites often feeds you the kind of information that agrees with your viewpoints, and seldom challenges you.
Taking classes on the internet allows a student to meet and exchange ideas with classmates all over the country. Having access to the internet and social media sharing sites like Facebook and Twitter allows us to see and ponder other viewpoints. But…
…Taking classes on the internet loses the personal experience of sharing a classroom with others and devalues our university campuses which are greenhouses for education and growth.
More or Less Social?
It can be argued either way. And people of different ages may have completely different points of view. The fact is, the internet and social media have changed the definition of social forever, and will continue to challenge and change traditional values, replacing them with new beliefs.
When I posed the question, “Does social media make us more or less social” to a friend…he pondered the question and answered…”Yes!”