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Opinion

Personal connection lost with social media

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October 25, 2012

One of the biggest trends in media today is the increased use of social networking sites. Facebook, Twitter and other similar websites have taken off over the past decade, and, in today’s society, one would be hard-pressed to find a person who does not use some type of social networking site.

While these websites have numerous advantages, they are creating a problem that can’t possibly be ignored. This increased communication via the Internet is diminishing face-to-face interaction and deteriorating the social skills of members of our society.

The chat capabilities these websites have made it easier than ever to connect with family and friends in a matter of seconds. Facebook has even added a video chat capability so you can “see” the person you are speaking to.

The 24/7 access people have to these chat devices often causes them to rely on social media websites to communicate with others as opposed to calling them on the phone or meeting with them in person. This heavy reliance on technological communication is damaging because it prevents human beings from communicating on a deeper level.

It is understandable that one may use these social networking sites to keep in touch with family members and friends whom he or she is unable to see on a regular basis. However, it is not uncommon to see a person turn to these websites to communicate with someone who is literally in the room next door. Although this image may seem ludicrous, it is something I have experienced first-hand on a number of occasions.

It appalls me that many people will no longer take 10 seconds to walk down the hallway to hold a face-to-face conversation with someone. If this pattern of behavior continues, human beings will be sorely lacking the interpersonal communication skills that are required to be successful in our world today.

In addition to the chat features, many social media websites allow users to post pictures and status updates to keep their friends and family up to date with the latest details of their lives. This constant stream of information gives people the false allusion that they are building and strengthening their relationships with friends and family by staying updated about their recent activity. However, in reality, they are likely becoming more distant from these people.

Because users have constant access to these updates, they deceive themselves into believing that no further communication is required with their friends and family since these notices tell them all they need to know. This belief could not be further from the truth. Receiving daily bits of information does not constitute a friendship or any other type of human relationship. The false impression this information gives to users ultimately causes them to distance themselves from those closest to them because they no longer feel the need to connect with them on a more personal level.

Although the features of social networking sites previously described pose major problems for society, the games these websites offer to their users are arguably the most dangerous feature of all.

People can sign up to use applications and play games for free through websites such as Facebook. These games suck players into an unhealthy cycle that constantly pulls them farther away from reality.

Those who participate in these games can play with other users who are online. This type of interaction is yet another reason why people no longer feel the need to interact outside of the Internet.

Playing a game in a virtual world with “friends” causes one to truly believe that his or her virtual world is reality. This idea is terrifying beyond belief.

Relying too heavily on social networking websites is a danger to our society as a whole. This trend causes human beings to become consumed by a virtual world while they are simultaneously pulled further away from reality.

These websites not only decrease the number of face-to-face interactions we have with one another, but they greatly deplete the social skills that are vital to being a functioning member of society. If we continue on this path of social network reliance, the results will be nothing short of detrimental.

Morgan Stippel is a political science major and a professional writing minor. When she graduates from UW-River Falls, she wants to become a state prosecutor and specialize in domestic violence cases.