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October 18, 2012

The Perils of Electronic Socialization

We are social creatures. We are designed that way. Some of us are more social than others, but even the most reclusive enjoy some socializing.

Yet, the convenience of social networking such as Facebook, Twitter, and texting, is limiting good old fashioned social interaction. We don’t spend time with each other like we should. Sure, there is the occasional text, “Hey, let’s grab lunch,” but a large percentage of our conversation is electronic. Will the long term effects change us?

Maybe.

Take Facebook for example. I initially had 300 friends when I first joined. What I liked about that was finding out what was happening in other people’s lives who I don’t normally see every day, week, or month – and being able to encourage them through “liking” their status update or comment. I soon found it was cluttering my mind with too much information about people and what they were or weren’t doing – and even what they should or shouldn’t be doing!

Is this how we really want a large portion of our minds to be used every day? It’s like one continual soap opera.

What We Miss Because of Electronic Socialization:

* Facial expressions.
When I send something funny electronically, I don’t get to see you smile or laugh. I don’t participate in the warmth of that moment that can only come from sharing it face to face.

* Sharing meals. There is really, really something to sharing a cup of coffee or a meal with someone. It’s meant to be that way.

* Affection. A kiss, hug, hand-shake, or hand on the shoulder or back. This is how we’re wired. And it translates.

When you use something in a way it wasn’t really made to be used, what happens? Over the course of time there will be some noticeable results – even damage! If we are not living the way we are designed, what will our society look like in the future? Robotic?

I shut down my Facebook for 6 months and returned with adding only 20 friends. I had 30 people (some extended family) wanting me to befriend them and I didn’t. I wanted my Facebook world to be small: family and a few close friends (and so I could play Words With Friends).

What Hurts Us Because of Electronic Socialization:

* Time. People are spending too much time socializing online. It affects us because we can’t get other things done. Who wants company when we’re so busy playing catch up? Not only that, but we’re stressed. We are always vigilant. “Ding!” goes the smart phone – someone commented on Facebook.

* Comparing. Far too many people are comparing what so-and-so is doing or what so-and-so has and can you believe what so-and-so posted?

* Rejection. If someone doesn’t respond to your post, you feel rejected and lonely, especially when so-and-so got 300 likes and you only got 14. And, especially when so-and-so always gets 25 comments and no one pays attention to you.

Life brings progress and change which we cannot and should not prevent. However, it is important to protect the fragility of our humanity through managing how we socialize – and not forget some good old fashioned breaking bread.


Kathy is a freelance writer and has a passion to bring hope to people of all ages who are hurting through disappointment, discouragement, and loss.

She is a member of the Working Writers Club, Writers On The Move, and a monthly contributor to Heartbeat the Magazine.

You can find her at “When It Hurts” – http://kathleenmoulton.com

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