Clicks, taps, updates, retweets, tweets, updates, clicks, taps. This is the music of our time. With social media sites acting as leader of our newfound global culture, we communicate with a click of a button or through the tap of a screen. According to the Huffington Post, as of last November, 23 percent of Facebook users check their account five or more times a day, and nearly two million tweets were sent out.
Mass Communication professor Doctor Jacie Yang says social media is key for the professional and networking world today.
“Social media is huge right now. For example when you use social media to connect with other people that are in your field of interest – that helps you in terms of your view on different things – it also helps you when you’re trying to get a job, which is one of the biggest concerns of our students.”
Yang says she incorporates social media sites in her Web Design and Publishing class and her Web Content Management Systems class as well.
“We do use Twitter and students are required to tweet web related technology issues, and talk about those issues in class.”
But what role does social media play outside of the classroom? Do widely used sites such as Facebook and Twitter , promoted to connect people, create a social disconnect at times?
Computer Science professor Doctor Roger Priebe says he has discussed this notion with some of his students..
“I asked my class what they thought and one of the interesting things they said was that sometimes people on Facebook – they know so much about them that they don’t want to see them because there’s nothing else to talk about, because they already know everything. Or they know so much about them that they really don’t want to talk to them because they’re annoyed by them you know. So it kind of goes both ways.”
Priebe says social media sites are simply creating a different form of communication. In some instances, he says, a disconnect can be created, while in other cases, the connectivity is enhanced.
“One of the things you don’t have is you don’t have the visual clues when you’re talking to somebody. You don’t have the voice – you don’t know what tone of voice they’re using. It’s a really poor medium for having any discussions about anything because you can’t tell if they’re angry or not and it causes miscommunication. So for those kinds of things I think it’s poor. For updating people, updating your grandparents, seeing pictures of kids, it’s very useful actually.”
International Relations sophomore Monica Martinez says she has noticed a form of social disconnect in our communication because of the way we now choose to communicate.
“People, usually, when the conversation dies down or when they feel a little awkward or uncomfortable – they just go to their phone. Before, when that wasn’t around, people tried to make conversation and tried a little more.”
Priebe says maybe the reason situations like this arise is due to more of a societal expectation.
“One of the issues with a lot of the social media, is there’s an expectation, a social expectation that people be connected and respond and be part of community, all the time. And it gets in the way of schoolwork and real relationships sometimes, and work and their life. So it can do that.”
Yang sees this a little differently. Yang says a connection, created or not, depends on the way people use the social media sites in their social interactions.
“I’d rather say, it’s changing the dynamics of how we do things nowadays face to face. I think one of the things a lot of us do right now is when we go to a restaurant – when the first dish comes up, instead of going for it, we would probably take a photo of it and then share on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Some people think it’s ridiculous – I like it. This is actually one more thing we talk about at a social setting, so I like it.”
However, Yang also said the connection or disconnection the user of a social media site can create, depends largely on the situation and the crowd involved in a social setting.
“If you’re with a group of really close friends, you wouldn’t mind if they spend a little time on a phone. If you’re spending time with a table of professionals or colleagues or co workers, you probably would cut back a little on the social media and pay a little more attention on what’s going on.”
Yet Martinez feels even using social media when hanging out with close friends can ruin the connectivity of the moment.
“There are times when I go hang out with my friends and we all end up on our cellphones even if it’s at the dinner table and it’s awkward for me because I don’t like to touch my phone when I’m with other people at the dinner table. I prefer to talk to people face to face.”
Priebe says he has seen these kinds of scenarios himself.
“I saw something interesting the other day, where everyone had to put their phones in the middle of the table, and the first person to grab their phone pays for the dinner. It was an interesting idea.”
But Priebe maintains an overall positive view towards social media sites , saying technology is always evolving and there will always be something new to address.
“Technology in general, I think, does bring more people together than pushing them apart because the internet and just various communication, it connects.”
Martinez says she sees the positives in social media sites, as she uses Facebook herself to connect with family in Mexico and close friends that live out of town. But, she also says, while these sites have this ability of connectivity, people should not be using social media sites in ways that can bring on an adverse effect.
“It has its advantages, but I think that if you’re with a person and you’re giving them the time of day, you should really give them the time of day. You should make an effort to really be there.”
In this global culture of clicks, taps,updates, tweets,and retweets, it may be hard to determine just where you stand. But whether you feel a sense of disconnect brought on by social media or if you feel more connected because of it, you are, and always will be, a part of it.
To hear the entire Social Media IPI broadcast click the link below.
Monica Solis, KTSW News.