Here is an op-ed I wrote for my communication writing course:
How social media is ruining my communication skills
RHIANNON BERG ’18
My friend was sitting across from me, trying to tell me about her sister’s school in Los Angeles being closed because of a threat, but I was too busy reading about it on Twitter to listen. My generation is losing valuable listening and in-person communication skills because of our dependency on cell phones and social media.
Social media enables me to connect with my friends and across the United States and the world. It gives me a unique and uncommitted way to keep in touch with them on the big events occurring in their lives, but it also tempts me to spend hours looking at other people’s lives rather than focusing on my own commitments and the people who surround me.
In a USA Today article, Jasmine Fowlkes argued, “Too often at events or parties, guests are attached to their smartphones tweeting or texting, but no one is truly engaging or interacting with the people around them.”
As a college student I constantly find myself checking Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram and other social media to find out about how my friends are doing rather than walking down the hall to talk to them in person.
After watching young people struggle to hold an in-person conversation for more than a few minutes I imagine a scary future. A world where the next generation of college students only interacts through their many devices and forgets how to have real life interactions.
A junior at Pacific Lutheran University, Elise Anderson, said, “I notice I’ll be talking to someone and they’ll be on their phone and I can tell they’re not paying attention to what I’m saying.”
I want live in a world where I have conversations with people and fully focus on them, not worry about what the rest of the world is doing while pretending to pay attention to their thoughts.
The Telegraph reported, “One in four people spend more time socialising online, using sites such as Facebook, than they do in person, according to research.”
Stepping away from social media and the world within cell phones allows people to focus on life and the world around them. It gives them time to appreciate the many small, but beautiful, details in life and to be productive and contributive members of society.
We need to consciously acknowledge and appreciate the importance of in-person communication so the art of conversation is not lost with the next generation.