Ever heard of the “Golf Course” theory? Yes? Liar! I just made that up… and that’s lesson number 1 about social media effects on communication. The boundaries of reality and fiction are quickly fading away.
Well, currently we have three major groups of people in the world. We have the Baby Boomer generation that is represented by the population over 50 years, Generation X made up of people in their 30’s to around 45 years and Generation Y who live entirely on social media or at least 90% of the time.
So how has social media affected communication?
Back to the “Golf Course” theory. It was believed that conducting face to face business on the golf course always ended on a positive note and many deals carried out by the Baby Boomer generation were handled on the golf course.
These were the days of landline phone calls, emails and actual letters. Communication was slow and in some ways limited to a few parties at a time but at least the response meant that the message was clearly driven home.
Nowadays things are totally different and even the Baby Boomer generation has been arm twisted into the social media realm. The handshake was important back in the day, now we just “like” and “comment” on business proposals and good ideas.
Current SEO practices are to blame for this because they insist on having company social media profiles for better ranking and so on. The social media craze has different effects on how we communicate and while most of it is good, some of it is bad edging on ugly. Here is the breakdown…
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Social media has really opened up communication and reduced the world to a virtual village, literally. It’s like standing on a hill just outside the city gates and shouting an announcement. Social media is about creating communities and groups and this has also improved the way groups can communicate.
Many social media websites like Facebook have given us a chance to speak to multitudes with a single status update. The limitations are only measured by how much that information is shared by fellow group members.
Now we can chat on real-time with hoards of people including those we don’t know. We make friends and business connections with people that we will probably never meet outside the social media world.
This can be termed as a good thing because this is a business opportunity that would otherwise have been lost and some of the advice passed when sharing with these “friends” can really come in handy in many so positive ways.
Social media has changed the way governments, companies, religious groups and think tanks operate. We can all get and pass around the information from social media sites. This has helped bridge the question-response gap and drastically shortened communication time and associated costs.
Companies can talk about their products to their potential customers and the world at large with considerable ease (text and associated images or videos). They can also receive immediate customer reviews and answer to customer’s queries in an open and fast way.
This can save time because people with similar issues will not need to ask the question again, the answer is just there. Social media has really improved communication from this aspect.
Although this is where Generation Y calls home, Generation X is quite conversant with this technology but the Baby Boomer generation is still a struggling lot.
All in all, good things have come out of social media circles. Social media has taken communication a notch higher now we can share information in different formats to ensure the point get’s home.
This mostly affects Generations Y & X. Most of the people in these age groups don’t have a clue about how to communicate in a formal way. Many individuals falling in the generation Y category can’t even address an official letter to save their own lives and a pen is just some archaic tool that was used in school!
It is becoming increasing impossible for Generation Y individuals to trust anything that has not been shared on social media. They also take everything on social media as the gospel truth.
Facebook and Twitter are fast replacing TV and radio news which is almost centered on social media issues 80% of the time. So why listen to old news in the evening if I caught it on a “friend’s” social media status early this morning?
Some of the information shared through social media is also very disturbing. Teenagers and some “old goats” can now share nasty nude pictures and sex-tapes through social media.
This is not the kind of communication we’d wish for is it?
But thanks to social media it’s all there. Old men and women are preying on young people through social media sites that have taught these kids that everything happening here is ok. It is not even remotely possible to say some of the things that are easily posted on social media.
Terrorist groups can now form their own social media groups and actually carry out attacks by communicating through social media using aliases to cover their identities. Half the time we are talking to people on social media we are not sure if it’s the right person or not.
Social media is the world of the unknown and the ethics of good old face to face communication have long gone to the dogs!
I can only explain this part in a story…
One woman was talking to her daughter on a social media site and they shared a lot of smiley faces and emoticons throughout their conversation. The sad part about this story is that the daughter committed suicide later that day.
She was being bullied by some of her “friends” to the point she felt she could not take it anymore. Instead of deleting the account, she deleted her life.
We can learn 2 things from this story. First of all, what is said on social media cannot be taken as absolute truth because the mother had no way of making out her daughter’s depression from their delightful conversation.
Communication in this case was misleading. After investigations it was found out that a group of mean girls from her school were making fun of the deceased girl because she was friends with her own mother on social media among other things like ugly photos not having “enough friends”.
This is communication at its ugliest!
The social media world is all fantasy and it can trickle into the world of the living with not so good results. Whichever way we look at it, social media has really affected the way we communicate. It has come with good things but also the bad and the outright ugly.
How can you categorize social media effects on communication? Share your views in the comment section below…