I like social media as much as the next person. However, a while ago I had a conversation about it with my father that proved more enlightening than I planned. I was texting this guy, but kept putting my iPhone down for 15 minutes between messages. Dad noticed, and asked me why.
“I don’t want to seem too keen,” I replied, not taking my eyes off the clock.
“I don’t get it; you like him, why don’t you call him?” Dad continued.
“Because that’s weird,” I answered, still glued to the time. Only 5 minutes to go.
“How is it weird to talk to someone you like?” the wise man asked, genuinely puzzled.
“Dad, that’s just what Generation Y does. It’s why I didn’t accept his friend request for 24 hours.”
“Oh come on! Why does your generation play these games?”
“Because…because we have to!” It was out of my mouth before I could stop it; even for me, this was a peculiar answer.
“I still don’t understand,” Dad persisted.
I thought for a moment. “Dad,” I began, “when you were dating, you had one means of communication; the home phone. You either called a person, or they called you, and if neither did then that was it. You never had to see them again. Nowadays, we have about 15 ways of contacting each other. If you don’t have a system to wade through it, you’re not going to survive! If my generation didn’t play games, we’d drown.”
Dad paused for a second. “Well…that’s a shame for you guys, isn’t it?” was his eventual reply.
“Yeah, no shit!” I agreed. The 5 minutes were up; I went back to texting. However, Dad had me thinking. I went over the different ways my friends/romantic liaisons and I communicated…I came up with texting, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Dubsmash, Bebo, Myspace, Tumblr, Tindr, Happn, Grindr, FaceTime, Skype, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, email, and the rarely used phone call.
It gets worse. Each method of communication implies a different level of enthusiasm/intimacy. A Facebook message is more personal than a wall post which is less personal than a text message which is less flirtatious than Snapchat or Dubsmash which is more hip than Bebo or Myspace which are less risky than Tindr or Grindr or Happn although those are more interesting than Tumblr or Pintrest or Google+… Have I missed any?!
How are we supposed to communicate if there are this many walls to break down? How can we be honest with each other if we’re constantly wearing masks? How can we truly get to know someone when our heavily Instagrammed Facebook profile pictures are often the first thing they see? We’re done before we’ve even begun.
Also, think of the future. Have you seen Generation Z trying to talk face-to-face? It’s like watching two monkeys discuss who has the biggest banana, but less entertaining. Who can blame them? They’ve had smartphones since they were 10, they barely handwrite in class anymore and an extraordinary amount of their schoolwork is online. OF COURSE they are now a generation of cyber junkies. As for the next generation, there’s no telling how low they’ll sink.
Unfortunately, I actually don’t have an all-encompassing solution. Perhaps if we swap one text message for a phone call every day. Or eat our meals before they get cold while we’re figuring out the best angle to take that foodie photo from. Or actually make the trip to our friend’s midnight cabaret in Darlinghurst instead of watching it on YouTube three weeks later. Either way, we need to do something, or the droids will finally rise up and take over. That, or we’ll have a social media induced zombie apocalypse.
Image via Askmen.com