Facebook: the most popular social networking site in existence. With “more than 350 million active users”, nearly everyone between the ages of 13 and 30 are updating their statuses and writing on friends’ walls constantly (www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics). It has reshaped the way people communicate. We live in a world that revolves around technology. iPods, cell phones, laptops, and the World Wide Web have made all the things we enjoy in life so much more convenient. However, some find that the ability to communicate without face-to-face interaction is becoming a deterrent to our social skills. Technology has enhanced the social lives of today’s society by making communication easier and more convenient, but it decreases the social skills of those who overuse it.
Advancements in technology over the years have given us the ability to communicate like never before. Take the cell phone for example. If you need to talk to someone urgently but you are nowhere near them, you can make a quick call and talk to them just like that. Or if they can’t talk or don’t pick up, then you can shoot them a text, arriving at their phone within seconds. Technology does not only allow verbal interaction like with the cell phone, but it can also encourage face-to-face interactions. For example, Lisa and Jonny Rocket are two London residents who once a month, host an iPod DJ night at a London bar. All attendees compile a 15-minute playlist on their iPods and switch off playing them. These gatherings offer “a setup where individuals use personal technology and make it a social event” (Harris 1). Another useful thing technology has provided us with is social interaction over the internet. This provides the opportunity to connect with new and old friends, and ultimately widen your friend circle. “Users have the potential to meet a virtually unlimited number of people”, says two UCLA students (Coget and Yutaka 1). Say you were best friends with a boy in third grade and haven’t seen him since, but you really want to find him and catch up with him. With things like Facebook and Myspace, you can do that. Some have even met their spouses over the internet through sites such as eHarmony. Overall, it gives you the chance to communicate and learn more about friends, have private or public conversations, and expand your popularity all from your computer. However, overusing technology may cause users to participate in less everyday social activities. Those who overuse it so violently do not participate in as much practical interaction as those who do not (Nie and Hillygus 1). If one becomes so immersed in this world of wonder they may become addicted. This is where self-control comes into check. If you allow yourself to sit at a computer for six hours straight, then yes it will be addicting. But just like anything else, addiction can be avoided with simple self-control.
An opposing view to my argument would be to say that using the internet makes you depressed and lonely. One article that argues this says, “As people in this sample used the internet more, they reported… experiencing more daily stress, and feeling more lonely and depressed” (Affonso 1). When too much internet can make you less social, it cannot literally make you depressed or lonely. Depression and loneliness are not related to the internet, but usually have to do with personal matters such as family or friends. This article is guilty of selective sampling because it is likely that the few people they surveyed were depressed and lonely from something going on in their personal lives, not from the internet. Another opposing argument says about iPods that “white earphones signal one thing to most people: don’t talk to me” (Song 1). This argues that being engaged in a technological device gives off the impression that you do not want to be associated with. I find this argument to be completely and utterly false because in my very own life, it is used as a conversation starter more often than not. When I am listening to my iPod, I am usually always approached by someone near me who broaches the question, “What are you listening to?” Or if I am texting or playing a game on my iPhone, curious people would ask, “What kind of phone is that?” So, this argument would only be true to the people who are too shy or afraid to conjure up a conversation in the first place.
Technology has been, and will continue to be an extremely helpful aid to the busybodies of our world, but a harmful asset to the ones who become addicted to it. But why should anyone care about sociality through technology? The vitality of technology to the way we live our lives today, cannot be expressed. If it were to be suddenly taken away from us at some point, we would find ourselves at such a great inconvenience that it is unimaginable.