Tagged: peter mcwilliams
FOESO: Let’s Be Bold and Speak Loudly
New segment/category on the blog: From One End of the Spectrum to the Other!
This is essentially where I will argue for both sides of an issue. I believe in what I write for both sides, but don’t forget why this blog is called Never Stationary…
Here’s one side of the spectrum, the other side will be coming soon!
A common misconception is that recent developments such as Facebook and Twitter have increased our quality of life and our ability to communicate with others. Yay, instant and global! Public and permanent! However, people who believe this blatant lie fail to recognize that it can actually replace the original ways that we communicate, which prove to be more valuable than these new social networking sites.
So let’s be bold and speak loudly, like we used to. Way back when we didn’t have Facebook for picture stalking and Tumblrs for ranting invisibly, we would write letters and potentially send emails to communicate with our long-distance friends, and we’d make phone calls and physically meet up the people that fortunately live near us.
Tumblrs are for spilling out feelings without communicating to other people directly what you are feeling, and Facebook is for stalking without the other person ever knowing. We scroll through statuses and pictures that we like and don’t physically thumbs-up them. I suffer from this problem too.
On WordPress, I can tell. Thanks to the Stats page on WordPress, I know how many views this site will get, and even how many views this particular blog post will receive. I know whether the site hit comes from Facebook or WordPress “Freshly Pressed” or from links on other blogs. There are a lot of lurkers on the internet that will stumble upon random sites like mine but not leave a trace, except contribute to the amount of views I get.
I’m young, and everyone seems to have a Facebook/Instagram/Twitter account. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve scrolled past pictures or quotes or tweets that make me giggle, smile, or re-evaluate the meaning of life, but about which I have done nothing. I’m not one to physically thumbs-up things on Facebook.
But it’s not fair! People who SHOULD be recognized don’t get recognized. Just as (excuse the horrible analogy) the structure of political parties allows it so that anything that the party advocates, followers often vote that way too, on social networking sites, too many people get likes, ping-backs, and retweets of what the post simply because that is the norm.
Do you even think that picture is pretty?
Not really, but look how many likes it already got. Everyone thinks her pictures are gorgeous.
That joke that you retweeted wasn’t even funny.
I know, but I always retweet his tweets…
I find that people nowadays generally have a harder time communicating with each other than ever before, because of the expansion of communication methods.
But, our ways of communicating have expanded! Doesn’t that indicate that we should be improving the ways that we keep in touch with other?
Think of our capability to communicate as a piece of Play-doh. There’s a finite amount available for each us, and we can either choose to keep it in a form with all the material is bunched together, and condensed into one solid mass. On the other hand, we also have the option of flattening it out and smearing it thinly across a table surface. The table represents the world, and our hand symbolizes the decisions that we make about how we communicate with others. We can keep it condensed in a ball form, or flattened like a sheet of paper, and we can certainly keep it somewhere in between. Each person has a different form of Play-doh than everyone else, which demonstrates how capable we are of communicating with people through technology. Indeed, in a complicated way, if we choose to extend our relationships across state border lines and oceans, we risk sacrificing the quality of communication that we used to have when technology was so much simpler. Simply put, recent technological developments such as mobile phones and the internet are beneficial in helping us reach others that don’t live close to us, but only to a point.
We don’t take risks anymore.
This problem relates partially to our usage of technology, but of course, there are also external factors that contribute to this issue.
We still don’t take as many risks as we used to. Do we even know what it is like to ride a bike to someone’s house in the middle of the night and pound on their door? When it cracks opens, do we know how to beg for forgiveness and spout a heartfelt list of reasons of why the person is absolutely the most splendid thing in our life? So that’s never happened to me but I’m just creating an example.
Do awkward, inexperienced tweens quietly admit to each other that they have a crush on each other in person, or do they do it by text nowadays? There’s something different about texting someone “I like u. do u like me?” It lacks the genuine suspense that comes from staring a person in a face as the words slip out. The person that has to respond if they like the other person can’t run away and has to respond fairly quickly. It is much easier to interpret what someone is feeling by looking at their face, not by analyzing whether or not there were 2 y’s in their “yeah” or whether they used a period or not.
When I was in junior high, I was fortunate enough to still pass notes the old-fashioned way, through folding them up and sneakily passing them in class. I was in the last generation to be able to live that experience. Adolescents are now almost entirely dependent on their phones. Some schools even offer laptops to their students, which means that people can also communicate through Gchat, Facebook chat and other social networking instant messaging systems.
Let’s play the “phone stack game.” When everyone arrives at some sort of gathering (a dinner perhaps?) everyone is required to stack their phones in the middle of the table, and the first person to cave and check their phone has to cover the check.
This game subtly forces people to make eye contact and maintain small talk that will eventually carry over into a real conversation. There’s no distracting ourselves from checking Facebook or Instagram or Tumblr or Twitter.
Ultimately, it upsets me how everyone (myself included) seems to be increasingly dependent and obsessed with technology. Not that these new forms of communication are entirely bad, but allowing them to replace authentic methods of communication poses great dangers to our ability to socialize and maintain contact with other people. The quality of our conversations are likely to plummet, and the likelihood of social awkwardness is sure to skyrocket.
Silence is golden, yada yada yada.
But now we live in a world that is saying less. We are speaking out less. Specifically, we aren’t saying what we want to say to others. We aren’t taking risks and blurting out things that we don’t want to hold in. But we hold them in anyways. And if we can’t hold them in, we’ll filter them into blogs and journals or we’ll go on Tumblr and pretend like the other people who use this site actually understand exactly what we’re going through, and we’ll distract ourselves from the problem at hand. We’ll ignore the fact that we aren’t saying what desperately needs to be said.
Yes, if there is a pressing global social issue at hand, we will speak out. Revolutionary changes like the Civil Rights Movement and the Egyptian Revolution succeed because social networking sites and global news publications help spread the word and depict images that can provoke anger and change, but I’m referring to a problem that exists on a more individual level.
So let’s be bold, and speak loudly. Let’s take more chances and put our pride on the line.
Let’s stop stalking party photos and directly ask someone how the party went.
I know there will be backlash and initial judgment, as young people have a tendency to alienate people who try to stand out. We’re not used to such direct communication, and will probably perceive it as confrontation of sort. It’s weird to like pictures and statuses of people we rarely interact with in real life, but that just demonstrates the severity of the situation, does it not?
But if we take the time to focus our attention on someone through a letter (physical…) or an email or a phone call as opposed to a text or a chat, it no longer seems careless and thoughtless. The action of contacting someone would then demonstrate a genuine interest.