social media platforms don't replace face to face communication

What brings people together better and faster than anything else in the world? No, not liquor. Food! Before the chaos, people would be with their families, friends, and significant others gathered at tables or cozy in booths at restaurants. The restaurant atmosphere would be created to make room for storytelling, friendly sibling rivalry, drunken laughter, and the happy birthday song. Tables would be covered with family style servings of all comfort foods and cell phones with the screen down. Then, you would see it. At least one person, head slightly tilted down, in a trance, scrolling. Not close enough to see phone screens, but a safe bet can be made that a scroll was being done, had been done, or was about to be done, on social media.

Now let’s leave the restaurant for a minute and go out into the world. With attention being put on social media, the scroll has continued. People can’t even walk in a straight line or watch their boundaries when approaching other people, because their phone has become their guide. People can’t have a good workout without scrolling. I see people walking outside, disregarding the natural art of a lake, the baby blue sky, and the fuchsia flowers, heads, once again, tilted down, scrolling. Before the chaos, people had already forgotten how to hold a face to face conversations. The art of speaking in complete, full sentences, looking at people in the eye when you speak, is no longer held to a high standard. The art of communication, speaking, and making interpersonal connections has been replaced by “likes” and commenting on a social media post, which has been labeled “engagement.” But is social media…social? Nothing can replace face to face conversation.

To follow “social distancing” guidelines, I’ve watched people go to great lengths to move dramatically away from each other. I’ve watched people lean their bodies in the opposite direction of the person they are speaking to, when they are in a situation that requires talking! While I was waiting in the checkout line at the grocery store, the woman behind me ask me how I’ve been “handling all this.” We had a nice, brief conversation. But it wasn’t her question that stood out. It was refreshing to know there are still people out there who aren’t afraid to speak to other humans. I bring that story up because I’ve heard it said, that during this time, people are on social media twice as much so, therefore, there’s more “engagement” (there’s that word again.) Is there?

To read more, stay tuned for Round 2 of You Don’t Need People to Like You!

Cheers!
~Tamu 

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