Social media is where people interact with others, share personal information and keep up with the latest trends and news. These days however, it is becoming the main form of communication for many. Recent technological innovations, such as social media networking sites has been said to alter the way in which we communicate and the interaction we obtain face-to-face. This topic basically comes down to who and how social media is used. The two works of literature by Sherry Turkle and danah boyd, show conflicting opinions about the subject. There is no question by either author about the impact of social media on how we communicate.
Rather the main point of issue is social media making a positive or a negative impact. Sherry Turkle in the introduction of her book “Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other” argues that social media is making us hide behind the screen rather than actually communicating with one another. However, in danah boyd’s introduction of her book “It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens,” she explains that even though teenagers are using social media more and more, its actually keeping them more connected. Although social media clearly has made an impact on how we communicate, it does not damage the way we make, sustain and understand relationships.
One component that is compelling us to use social media sites more is the convenience. In the olden days, the most efficient method of communication was through mailing letters, which took days to get from person to another. These days however, through the press of an icon, messages can be sent in a matter of seconds. This is a major advantage that makes us interact with others. Although mailing letters maybe more heartfelt and thoughtful, the amount of interaction that someone has with the other person is not as strong. Using social media connects us better because it’s as if you were talking on the phone. After one person speaks, the other can respond immediately, which can make communicating more lifelike and connect us better.
In her book boyd writes “The whipped out their phones to take photos of homecoming court, and many were texting frantically to one another in the crowd.” (2) She demonstrates that the teens were using their phones to find one another. It also states “… much of what people post online is easily spreadable with the click of a keystrokes. Some systems provide simple buttons to ‘forward,’ ’repost,’ or ‘share’ content to articulated or curated lists.”(12) This shows how convenient social media is and how it can make us stay connected.
Another way social media has enhanced how we interact with each other is through, simply being on social media. One efficient way employers these days can check what kind of a person a new employee is through checking their social media pages. Another reason having a social media account is helpful is it helps meet and find new people. I have personal experience with this. I went on vacation in London last winter and I met my half cousin for the first time. We had a great time visiting many places and had a lot of fun. I came back from vacation thinking that I talked to him for the last time before I go to visit again. However, he found me on Facebook, and sent me a friend request.
This would not have been possible if it wasn’t for social media networks. Now, we are able to communicate with each other once in a while and keep the relationship ongoing. In her book, Turkle mentions “Once a week she (Ellen) would call her grandmother in Philadelphia using skype… before skype, Ellen’s calls to her grandmother were costly and brief. With Skype, the calls are free, and give compelling sense that the other person is present- Skype is an almost real-time video link.”(13) This shows the convenience of getting connected long distance.
A few of the best aspects of social media is that it’s new, its innovative, and it gives us new and easier way to connect with others. For example, boyd conversation with a teen “We sat down and went through her Facebook page, where she showed me various photos from the night before. Facebook hadn’t been on her mind during the game, but as soon as she got home, she uploaded her photos, tagged her friends, and started commenting on others’ photos.”(4) This shows that even though the girl couldn’t be with her friends the night before, they are still able to discuss the experience that they had using pictures and commenting on them.
Boyd continues “She used Facebook to extend pleasure she had in connecting with her classmates during the game.”(4) This just goes to show how connected we can become with social media. Even though we can be with someone at the same time, we can see what they experienced. The small new gadgets that social media adds is what gives us more excitement and at the same time helps us communicate with others more efficiently and with more purpose.
Some might say social media only makes us unsocial due to the fact that we don’t interact with one another face to face. An illustration of this is shown in Turkle’s book, “Digital connections and sociable robot may offer the illusion of companionship without the demand of friendship. Our networked life allows us to hide from each other, even as we are tethered to each other.”(1) Turkle is saying that even though we are communicating through social media, we are not connecting. Although it is true that emotions and expressions cannot be shown through typing, it is better to communicate this way because of the convenience of uploading pictures, and fully taking advantage of all the gadgets available make it an exciting way to communicate and do it with great amount of content.