Social Media: Is it the end of society?

Walking through the mall with my children, going to the grocery store, and one thing has become blatantly obvious to me: smartphones are everywhere. And it’s not just the youth.

Not that long ago, my husband, daughter and I decided to enjoy a nice lunch together out.  At the table next to us was a couple in their 60s and both of them were busy texting, or doing whatever, on their smartphones. Even my daughter commented on how they weren’t talking to one another.

“Don’t they like talking with one another, mum?”

I just shrugged in response and continued on with my conversation with my husband.

So I pose this question to you: is smartphones and social media the end of our society?

There is no doubt about it, the internet has definitely changed our lives. This is something that I’ve spoken about before, but to call it the end of our society might be a little harsh. If anything, the internet has made our world smaller, helping nations bridge the gap caused by the oceans between us.

Through Facebook, I can keep on top of the lives of my family in the USA and Netherlands. Through Twitter, I’m able to communicate with other writers throughout the world, in the USA, Australia, UK and Canada. Through Skype and Google Hangouts, I can speak with clients and friends face to face, there’s just a computer screen between us. And through YouTube, my parents are able to watch my daughter’s dance recitals that they would have missed otherwise. And all of this is possible due to the internet.

No, internet is not the problem. The issue revolves around smartphones and the culture that is developing that thinks it’s acceptable to walk around with your nose pointed downward at a screen.

Already, nations throughout the world have passed laws that make it illegal to talk on the phone or text message while driving; you must use a hands-free kit. This is a good, positive change in the right direction. However, is there more that needs to be done?

In my mind, the stance on smartphone usage from a legal standpoint should be limited to situations that are a matter of safety, such as driving. However, the usage of smartphones in restaurants and in a crowd should fall to peer-pressure. If the crowd finds it’s acceptable, then fine. Me? I find it incredibly rude when I’m having lunch with someone that I haven’t seen for some time and they spend the entire time tapping out messages on their phone.

Some people would say that my attitude is old and fuddy-duddy, that I’m opposed to technology. That way of thinking couldn’t be further from the truth. Let’s face it, I wouldn’t be on Facebook, Twitter, or have this blog otherwise.

No, I like my smartphone. I love the ability to take pictures whenever I’m out, sharing them with my overseas family and friends. I love having my favorite songs at my finger tips. Well, that was the case, until the 3G on my smartphone died. I can’t wait to until I can scrounge the money together to get a new one (and I already know exactly which phone I want). However, when I’m in public, having lunch with a friend or family, then my attention is devoted to my company and the food that I’m eating, not my phone. It’s called respect and courtesy for those around me. It’s this that I believe that is slowly dying.

As a mother of two teenagers, I have done the best I can to ensure that my children know that there is a time and place for everything that they do. If my 14-year-old son wants to have a Facebook account, then I’ll sign him up for one, and I’ll teach him what he needs to know about cyber-security. (So far, he has shown no interest in having such an account.)

Both of my children have phones, but before I agreed to pay the bill, they had to give me a valid reason as to why they might need one. They both did, and for both of them it was a similar excuse: cycling home from school and they get a flat tire, they needed the ability to call me and tell me that they were going to be late. But I wanted to ensure that they understood that technology was a tool to help us, not a crutch to take away our ability to actually communicate with one another.

Nightly, we have dinner as a family (at least we try to, but extra-curricular activities sometimes demand otherwise). Electronics are off and we actually talk to one another. This practice has migrated to when we’re out and about. We communicate, without the internet to help us.

Will smartphones and the internet kill society? Only if we let it. It’s up to us to define what is acceptable in social settings and what’s not.

P.S. I’d love to meet you on Twitter or Facebook.

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© Copyright, Judy L Mohr 2016

Posted in Family Life, Parenting, Random, Social Media, We Let Them In and tagged , , , .

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