Take a stroll through the Boise State quad on a crisp fall day, and one would be challenged not to enjoy the beauty of the nature we’re fortunate to have all around us and see hordes of individuals so deeply immersed into their smart phones roving mindlessly, bumping into one another, with their eyes cast on a small screen that has replaced the world.
Students, of course, cannot be blamed for their immersion in the social media and texting universe has experienced unprecedented growth in the past
Constant connection has become custom, even an expectation for many socially-active individuals. Our necessity to be in contact within seconds with any individual we know has killed our perception of the physical world around us, as well as the social world.
Many would argue the miracle of nearly instantaneous contact (it is truly an achievement of man), has reformed the social world beneficially, in that contact with other human beings via Facebook or SMS (texting) has simplified the process.
No longer must we take the effort to call, leave messages or utilize contact books to get together with friends, as it can all be conveniently stored in the memory of your smart phones. Others proclaim the saving grace of social networking sites such as Facebook, it allows them to stay in contact with friends and family they didn’t even know they had, as well as old acquaintances many have lost touch with.
Franklin Roosevelt said “…Power must be linked with responsibility,” and while he could not have imagined such a quote to fit the context of social media, it still carries much weight to the topic. The ability to contact anyone so quickly is a great power, one taken for granted by many and in current times, that power is used in great excess.
The unspoken laws of social interaction for the young and old alike have changed. It can be said it is no longer socially acceptable to telephone friends, colleagues, or even to set up dates with potential romantic interests. In fact, it can also be said that Facebook and texting has completely changed the game of dating and flirtation.
Jefferson Graham of USA Today said, “The texting craze gets bigger and bigger, and nowhere more so than in the world of romance, where texts now play a major role,” in an article in which of those polled, 65 percent of people said it was only acceptable to ask for a first date via text message, while 24 percent went as far as to say that breaking off a relationship via texting was completely acceptable.
Have individuals become so detached from the human instinct of face-to-face contact we’ve felt no remorse in abandoning it completely?
But why? Is it the convenience of the social media world? Is it a bizarre voyeuristic instinct that has ingrained itself in our social beings to know what our friends and family are up to at all hours? Or is it, perhaps, the sense of popularity one may attain by having a large pool of Facebook friends?
Many now lack basic conversational ability, while major studies around the world have linked the anonymous nature of texting to why students feel a sense of “stage fright” when asking questions in front of large audiences of their peers, or why students suffer with presentations, and nearly frown upon public displays of opinion and belief. Many studies also link social media devices to lack of focus in students. Is our necessity for contact and false senses of popularity so important to us that we forget the value of our own educations?
To return briefly to the realm of quotes of power and responsibility, Friedrich Nietzsche leaves us with a telling quote of great pertinence to this issue.
“The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.”
We do not stop to question whether or not something should be said in person. We do not stop to think perhaps we’ve only become comfortable speaking behind a shroud of anonymity that is linked with text messages. Texting and social media are by no means “evil” or “wrong,” but the way many use it has committed a great disservice to society and how we run our day-to-day lives.
This is not to suggest that texting and social media is an all-corrupting entity, but we have allowed ourselves to become zombies of society, mostly because it is what everyone else we know is doing as well.