Losing the art of socialization

Some things are better without technology.

Just last week, I was enjoying a Sarah McLachlan concert in Moncton. While listening to the three-time Grammy-winning artist perform a beautiful melody on the piano, I couldn’t help but notice the people sitting around me. Specifically, I noticed approximately a dozen people in my section on their cell phones, typing away. In that moment, I couldn’t help but wonder what could possibly be more enjoyable on that phone than the music right in front of you?

This thought extends far beyond the concert. Every day, I see people distracted by the gigantic online world known as social media. And who can blame them?  Social media offers an endless amount of ways to “connect”: sharing, laughing, and communicating with your friends and acquaintances. This allows us to constantly know what everyone is up to and vice-versa. But is this really a good thing? What started as a friendly communication system has become an almost competitive platform, in which people constantly seek out the attention of others through sites like Facebook or Twitter. It seems as though this has prevented people from enjoying the smaller, real, sociable settings around them.

Imagine you are in your workplace, but instead of actually working, you simply walk around and tell all of your co-workers about the work you are supposed to be doing. Doesn’t make any sense, right? Well then why is it that in social situations, this has become acceptable? We’ve all seen people at a party sitting alone texting someone, or even a room full of friends all focused on their own social devices. But why is this? It’s almost as if we are losing the ability to enjoy the present moment, or truly socialize. It seems to me that the reason many students today feel socially awkward or suffer from social anxiety is because we are depriving ourselves of everything it means to be “social.” If we can’t talk to each other in a room with our friends, how are we expected to apply this to other social situations?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I myself use social media as it presents many positive opportunities. It allows me to stay in touch with people whom, without it, I wouldn’t normally be able to. However, the problem arises when people cannot detach themselves from their devices. Putting away your phone or computer for a few hours should not seem like a daunting task. Getting as many “likes” as you can on that profile picture should not be something worth striving toward. We have to learn how to distinguish ourselves between the two worlds and use each one accordingly.

While it has never been easy to stay in touch with your friends, I seem to be seeing more and more people drifting away from one another. Caught up in the social world, an increasing amount of people are losing sight of the experiences that sit in front of them. While I believe and hope that this will be a temporary phase we are going through as a contemporary society, it is important to keep ourselves focused on the real relationships and experiences we share with people. So maybe, for even just an hour today, put away your phone and go talk to someone, whether it be a friend, a professor, or your family. I guarantee you won’t regret it.

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