Has Social Media Ruined Socialising?

Posted by Tina On December 02, 2013

It wasn’t long ago when the easiest way to share a photo with your friends was to attach an image from your digital camera to an email.

Recent technology advancements on smart phones has now allowed consumers to share every moment of their lives wherever & whenever they like with just a click of a button. Programs like Facebook, Instagram, Vine & Snapchat give users the opportunity to open up their private lives to the world. These programs have made it possible for the user to share thoughts, photographs & video with their extended online community so it feels like everyone is there sharing the moment with you.

It has made connecting with peers as easy as possible. However, this new technology has completely changed the way humans are now socialising. What kind of impact will these new forms of social media have on socialising in real life?

Here are a few examples of the impact so far.

Recently I was out to dinner with a group of friends. Everything was going smoothly until we all sat down at the table. I began to start chatting about how desperately hungry I was and then everyone else on the table got their phones out and started to look through their respective newsfeeds on social media. Firstly, I thought the purpose of going out for dinner with friends was to enjoy good food with good company, maybe I was wrong. It was either the lack of interesting conversation on my behalf or perhaps the fact that everyone was more interested in seeing what all of their other friends were doing instead?

It went further downhill once the menus came out. Firstly someone takes a photo of the restaurant logo on the menu to no doubt send to everyone on their Snapchat list to say “look what I’m doing right now”. Conversations start to flow until I hear a “look at what so and so is doing” from down the other end of the table. That person then passes their phone around the table to make sure everyone else saw it.

Berry Nicholas post

Once the food was ordered, a few conversations begin. Currently 3 out of the 5 people who came out for dinner have their phones in their pockets now, where they should be. All of a sudden another friend gets up and takes a photo of the group and uploads it to Facebook. It seems fair enough to capture the moment of a group of good friends out for dinner, but once that photo was uploaded that person spent the next 2 minutes refreshing their Facebook feed to see who liked or commented it.

It wasn’t until the food came out that I truly realised that social media had taken over our dinner date. All I could think about was getting stuck into dinner which had just been placed in front of me. I go to grab my knife and fork and look up to my friends who not to my surprise were now standing up and taking photos of their meals for Instagram (Personally, food photos are a pet hate). One guy had even got down quite low to make sure that the composition of the photograph made the food look as good as it possibly could.

This was when I started to think, have these little insignificant apps on our phones completely taken over our lives? Or is it just my fantastic group of Gen Y technology addicted friends? I looked around at the other groups of people on the other tables and majority of them had their phones out too.

Eating the food was the best part of the night, firstly because the food was great but also the fact that no one could touch there phones and we could actually socialise. We told stories and we laughed as you would have done before social applications.

I have had this same conversation with others and they all experience it. I have even heard of a game to help prevent these sorts of situations, When you go out for dinner everyone puts their phones on silent and in the middle of the table, first person to grab their phone has to cover the bill.

The dinner table is just an example but what I have discussed happens everywhere.

The point I’m trying to get across here is that it has changed the way we go about things and is now an extension of our everyday lives. We now think others actually care about what we are having for dinner and feel the need to share this with everyone we know.

Now don’t get me wrong, I think social media platforms are great for staying in touch with people, following personal interests and getting creative inspiration. I have Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr and Linkedin and I use them all regularly, but I try not to use them around people in a social situation out of respect.

The other day I found myself looking through Instagram while I was doing grocery shopping & sometimes it’s the first thing I check when i wake up in the mornings. As these mediums update constantly, we feel the need to always be in the know. I think it comes down to the acronym “FOMO” (fear of missing out). Maybe this fear of missing out has led to the way we act now with social media & the reason we are so attached?

In the digital media industry everyone looks to the future for the next big thing, I am also interested to see what the future will have in store for socialising and our everyday lives.