Now that I can open Facebook and message a friend, tweet a classmate, or connect with my family on Instagram, it is hard to remember a time in which I did not have such easy access to communication. In the past decade, technology has heavily impacted my life, especially regarding social media use. Here are several technologies and the ways they have revolutionized the way we communicate.
According to a Business Insider article entitled “Social Media Engagement: The Surprising Facts About How Much Time People Spend On The Major Social Networks” by Emily Adler, Americans spend an average of 37 minutes on social media each day, which is more than they spend on any other major Internet activity, including email. I’m embarrassed to say that I am an American and I spend much more than 37 minutes each day on social media. However, I cannot help but think that I have kept in touch with more people for the past few years because of all the time I spend on social media. When I went away to college, I stopped communicating regularly with many of my high school friends, but I do throw them a Facebook like or favorite their tweets every now and then. Although this is obviously not as effective as a full conversation would be, I still feel like it paves the way for me to politely engage in conversation with them in the future, instead of losing contact with them completely.
I also spend a lot of time on my smart phone. I often find myself wondering how I would have gotten through school, work, and had a thriving social life without the technology I have today. When I have a question about a class assignment, I can be drafting an email to a professor within seconds, or sending a quick text message to a classmate. I am able to communicate quickly with my boss, and can get work done wherever I am. However, a lot of the time that I spend on my smart phone is used to communicate with friends and family through text messaging and Snapchat (an app which allows users to send fun pictures with captions back and forth) or checking up on what my friends are doing through their Instagram pictures and Twitter feeds.
Social Skills (Without Technology)
Although I am extremely grateful for the opportunities that technology has given to me, I also wonder whether or not it is restricting me from improving social skills. I am comforted by the New York Times article entitled “Technology is Not Driving Us Apart At All” by Mark Oppenheimer. The article discusses how Keith Hampton, a professor at Rutgers and a team of 11 students from the University of Pennsylvania, compared video footage they took of Bryant Park in New York City with video footage taken in the same spot 30 years ago by sociologist William H. Whyte. After analyzing two thousand hours of footage, Hampton and his team concluded that technology does not make people any more fragmented in social situations. Clearly there may be differing opinions and findings on whether technology has improved our ability to interact with each other, but there is no doubt that it has made communication, in whatever form, easier than ever before.