How Social Media Makes Us Unsocial

In her TED Talk, Allison Graham addresses the pervasive impact of social media and its role in making us unsocial. She contends that our reliance on technology has led to a disconnection from one another, with social media replacing face-to-face interactions. Graham also notes that the constant use of social media has reduced our vocabulary and shortened our attention span. Additionally, she emphasizes the dangers of texting while driving and the pressure to present a perfect image of our lives on social media. These factors, she argues, contribute to the detrimental effects of social media addiction on our mental and physical health. In my "How Social Media Makes Us Unsocial" essay, I will explore these ideas in greater depth, examining the ways in which social media is impacting our relationships and well-being, and what steps we can take to mitigate its negative effects. By reflecting on Graham's insights, we can begin to better understand the impact of social media on our lives and how we can use technology in a more mindful and intentional way.

Social Media historian Allison Graham’s talk How social media make us unsocial is about how social media disconnects us, what’s happening and how to do better. According to her, when internet was new 25 years ago and pagers and answering machines were some of the few devices used, we may or may not answer the call. But now we demand more from technology. These has risks in our society like shorten vocabularies in texting such as OMG, WTF, LOL where we loose risk of being able to fully express and communicate our thoughts. There is also the risk of texting while driving which is one of the effects of social media addiction. Even when on vacation, we are still connected but distracted when we have to check on our phone for work emails. She said that social media influences people’s way of life and started to replace face-to-face interaction. She mentioned a 2013 study by Mary Meeker which says that we check on our phones up to 150 times per day and upload almost two billion pictures everyday. She also said that what we present on social media are perfect parenting, perfect family photograph, ideal life, different kinds of selfies, great relationships, no bad news about ourselves which doesn’t make a lot of 'Likes' equating to self-esteem on Instagram or Facebook. Also in social media, we are suppose to know each other’s life in social posts. As parting words, she said we should live life better if we have hands to hold rather than keys to click. We need to pause in our lives and take time to appreciate other things. We can use social media to create positive face to face groups and organizations, meeting places and people, make and teach human connection. She then asked everyone in the audience to take a screen free challenge and unplug for an hour a day.

My reaction on what Allison Graham said is true and correct. I agree with her that what many of us show on social media is more of a make believe than what really happens in real life. We tend to show more of our good qualities than the bad ones because we are concerned about other’s opinions on us. I also agree on what she said that if somebody’s posts got so many likes on Instagram, it means that they are popular and accepted by many people. Because of this, I think of deleting my own posts because it might not gain many likes and be unnoticed by others. When it comes to family, social gatherings or dates, we tend to focus more on our own devices instead of communicating and socializing with people in front of us. Many times we are updated on what our friends do in their lives because they always share what happens every now and then. I also agree on what she said that some parents let their children spend more time on gadgets because they are busy working. Her illustration that internet takes up 90% of human need, meaning social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram is addictive, is for me very alarming. It is true that in order for us to appreciate the good things in our lives, we have to take off our eyes on screen and spend quality time on ourselves and others.

After hearing her talk, I was enlightened on how social media affected me in so many ways. I am also guilty on what she said about spending more time in social media because I was more connected in it than in my own real world. True enough, I check on my phone many times in a day to see if there are messages, notifications, updates and miscalls which I consider part of my daily routine. I also think that my phone can provide me almost everything I want to know like contacts, informations, posts, news etc and most of the things I need to learn and be entertained in life. Back then when inside the classroom, I had the habit of spending my free time browsing my phone instead of interacting with my classmates. As a result of these, I became unsocial and less confident on myself in dealing with others. I also felt insecure from what people posted on how good their looks and lives are because I tend to compare myself on what others have which I don’t. These are just some of the negative things I experienced that made me unsocial.

In my opinion, although it’s true that social media has affected our interaction with others in many negative ways, it has also given us many positive things which we can use in our daily lives. Like in our studies, websites such as Pinterest, Tumbler and social media networks provide useful information and references for school projects helpful to us students. We also use it to connect with our classmates and professors regarding our lessons and activities. We can share and submit documents via Google Drive Box, Google Docs where our professors can open and evaluate our assignments. So far, the biggest advantage of social media in education during this stay at home pandemic time is distance learning opportunities. Since we can not not attend regular classes physically, the only way to finish our semester class is thru virtual learning system like Blackboard. Hence, it has made studies much better and convenient. When it comes to family member far away from us or friends whom we have not met for a long time, we can still be connected and be able to communicate with them. The thing that affects us negatively is the wrong and excessive use of it, where we consider our devices as a major part of our lives like we can not live without it. This is when social media makes us unsocial that we limit our face to face human interaction in front of a screen.

In conclusion, I believe that Social Media can make us unsocial if we do not know how to control and use it to our advantage. Allison Graham’s talk then reminds us on the importance of human interaction to live a happy and meaningful life. Just like what she asked from everyone at the end of her talk, I am taking the screen free challenge and unplug for an hour a day.

16 December 2021
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