By Steve Biko Abuya with Ogova Ondego
Published June 21, 2014
Did you know that the frequency you use your cell-phone affects how you interact with the people in real life situation?
Many of us spend so much time on our cell-phones chatting on social media that these gadgets have become a part of our lives. You will see us chatting on our devices along the streets or even giggling in sacred, academic and work places as if they were social areas. But just how well do we know that person sitting next to us in that matatu, theare or rally?
Human Communication Research, an international journal that presents contemporary communication studies, states that frequent cell-phone users would be less likely to converse with strangers in public; that heavy users of social media like us seem to be involved in our own ‘world’ and rarely pay attention to issues outside our virtual realm; that we ignore anyone close to us as we concentrate on our gadgets.
Have you noticed that sometimes we become so caught up in capturing an event like a birthday party on our cells that we forget to enjoy the actual moment itself? Such is what technological advancement has turned us into; losing touch with the real self.
To make matters worse, we the social media ‘champs’ have become so addicted to our gadgets that we don’t know how to communicate in a face-to-face situation. We hardly ever have the time to engage in formal greetings and conversations. For instance, when was the last time we began our conversation via proper conventional greetings?
We may be living in the age that that eminent physicist Albert Einstein foretold: “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots” for indeed the 21st Century technology has bred idiots.
Many people hold the view that the meaning of ‘friendship’ lost its weight and relevance with the onset of a few clicks of ‘Add Friend’, ‘Like’, ‘Follow’ and ‘Share’ on social media. This is because we may have hundreds or even thousands of ‘friends’ on social media yet we hardly ever interact with them. Sometimes we meet some of them along the streets and don’t recognise them!
We have forgotten the art of letter-writing to the extent that some organisations are today demanding that job applicants write application letters, resumes and motivation in their own handwriting to gauge who to hire.
Alongside letter-writing and sentence-construction, grammar and punctuation have suffered from our so-called technological advancement. There is always a feeling among us that long paragraphs are boring and tiresome to read hence the need for shortcuts which eventually downplay correct use of grammar.
As you interact face to face with others, you get to learn of new vocabulary and their pronunciations. This opportunity is often unavailable to most of us on social media.
Worse still, if there are children in the family, the addiction to social media by the parents is most likely to result in erosion of family ties.
Technology is also making us live a ‘lie’; we use social media as an escape to be what we wish we were in real life, be it financially, romantically, academically or even in terms of beauty. Some of us sound so clever, romantic, smart, rich or whatever else one fancies but we disappoint those our interaction has impressed when we finally meet them outside platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook or Twitter.
This ‘social media bondage’ has found its way into our work place. We chat with our ‘friends’ during working hours, something that leads to our being less productive as we waste lots of time on chats that could be pursued after work.