Social media was supposed to make the world smaller and help us all connect.
Predictably, it’s had, in so many ways, the opposite effect.
If you want to talk in terms of quantitative data, you can argue we communicate more, and with more people. But qualitatively, people’s preferences to communicate via social media and their mobile device is seriously hurting our ability to connect, as humans.
This is especially true for teenagers, who’re still developing their social skills. (Or, in this case, still stunting their social skills.)
With the help of apps like Snapchat, friends are organizing their conversations into “friend groups.” They create specific threads and determine who is going to be included… and who is not.
These threads often deal with topics that everyone included has in common. Could be as simple as music taste or discussions about high school social circles.
The unintended extension of these defined friend groups is that they live outside of the digital conversation thread. The kids start organizing in those same friend groups. Which means they also start excluding in friend groups.
As a result, the phrase, “she’s (or he’s) not in my friend group,” is all too common. And, in many cases, when someone who’s friends with one or two in the friend group wants in, the “friend group” has to vote to determine if that person gets in or not.
My daughter was recently told they decided she couldn’t be in their friend groups because there was an even number, and they didn’t want to upset the balance. Ironically, she was good friends with more than half of the group.
I’ve been told plenty of times that I see things through my old-fashioned lenses. But this notion of friend groups couldn’t be more foreign and would have been incomprehensible before social media and smart phones.
It used to be, if there was a group of kids trying to figure out what to do, anyone who walked up was probably invited to join. There weren’t restrictions on numbers.
There are so many examples of how this technology is stunting our humanity, and not enough to counter it.
But I suspect, it’s too late.