In the café “Kulturhuset”, this sunny autumn day, 20 students gathered around a reporter’s table. The subject of the day was whether social media made us more social, and how the media would develop in the future. Besides having asked to interview some of the students, the reporter’s team had brought two researchers and an author, to get their professional opinions. The audience laughed at several occasions, captivated by the people talking, simultaneously receiving new information about an important subject. So what did they learn? Do social media make us more social? And if so, is it enough to weigh up for the negative aspects of the usage?
First of all, there are different ways of being social, and today’s social media allow people to socialize the way they want to. Is it, therefore, possible to state that the media such as Facebook, and Instagram, make us less social than before? No. Comparing entirely different ways of socializing, as if they were the same, will in my opinion not give a good and reflected answer. I was, therefore, glad to hear the opinions of the people researching and working with social media. They focused on how the different social channels have changed, but that people are still occupied by the same things/ subjects.
In fact, people against the use of social media argue that the young generation have become too concentrated on being perfect, for instance on Instagram. They might be right, however, the need to highlight the positive things in life is not something that has appeared lately, the author of a book about social media pointed out. “How often do you see a picture of a person crying in a photo album?” Not often. In fact, if you dig deep enough, it becomes clear people have not changed as a consequence of the use of social media. Maybe the development one focuses on is a consequence of everything being visible and available online. It makes the problems stand out more clearly, however, the problems themselves might not be so different from what they were before. As one of the researchers said; “It does not matter if something happens online or in the schoolyard, the feeling is still the same”.
However, it is important to focus on the positive aspects of using social media , because the usage will be increasingly important in the future. People against the use of these media would do good to remember that being online is not necessarily a replacement for spending time with friends. In today’s society, especially for teenagers, the social media come in addition to meeting people at school and socializing during week-ends. In fact, the different media allow you to stay in touch with people you do not have the opportunity to see all the time, consequently giving you a bigger network, whilst at the same time making it easy to plan to see someone the upcoming Saturday.
To conclude, there are different channels and ways to be social. The social media do not necessarily give you many close friends, however, it will result in a bigger network, which can be just as useful. To answer the question: “Do social media make us more social?” Yes, it does, because the use of it is not a replacement for being social in real-life, it is a way of connecting the world, allowing you stay in touch with the friends you cannot meet all the time. I believe, therefore, that the positive aspects are bigger than the negative, due to the fact that they allow people to socialize on their own terms.
What is your opinion on the usage of social media?
If you want to listen to the broadcast, visit this page. (It’s the part called Ekkoloddet)