We’re all guilty of it. Having our faces buried into the screen of a smartphone during social settings when our attention should’ve been on the people around us. The reality is there’s very little smart phones cannot do, so at times it can be hard to divert our attention back to the world around us.
However, as an ever increasing amount of social media platforms arise in the digital world, the need to sit down face-to-face with other people is slowly diminishing. A recent interview with representatives from the Bendigo Regional YMCA alarmed me to the idea of the next generation of youth having endless connections with people across the world wide web, yet feel they are emotionally isolated from the world.
I recall a Facebook profile I had during my teenage years and early twenties where I somehow amassed around 600 friends. And no, I’m definitely not that popular. I really only have less than a handful of people in my life who I would consider to be close friends.
During an anti-digital world epiphany I deleted the profile and started again, ensuring that anyone on that list was someone who was actually my friend and I trusted enough to have access to my digital world.
But even then it became too easy just to catch up with friends over a five minute relay of private messages, replacing what used to be a grandiose process of arranging a time and place to meet someone for a good old fashioned chin wag. However, we cannot ignore there are many great benefits of social media.
In major events and emergencies there aren’t many other mediums which are able to relay important messages to an endless number of people within seconds. And what about people who experience social anxiety, the relief of having a first date online definitely helps cool the nerves.
Medical professionals have to ability to see patients from a distance helping establish vital connections with people who are unable to travel great distances for appointments.
But like all things in life, it’s all about balance. We need to instill in youth that social media is an important part of our society with many benefits, but there will always be a need for face-to-face communication.
More people than ever before feel emotionally isolated in their lives, yet they have the ability to communicate with billions of people around the world on the internet.
Anthony Pinda is a Fairfax journalist.