Megan Rosker wants us to be careful not to treat social media as the entirety of human interaction.
We have all fallen head over heels for the temptress, Social Media. She is forever accommodating of our desires, strengths and weaknesses. Her coy smile slips into our day before we even realize that we have logged in to listen to her endless chatter. Though at times she seems all encompassing and controlling in our modern age, she is not without her attributes. She has given us something we have never had before.
Recently I was passed a lovely transcription of an interview done with Jeff Pulver at his #140conf Tel Aviv in November. He spoke about how our new interconnectedness via social media is changing how people interact and react emotionally to one another. Mr. Pulver and I haven’t always seen eye to eye on the use of technology, but I definitely agree with him on this matter. As Mr. Pulver states:
It really is about people, about how some people are discovering their voice and how other people are discovering other people’s voices. Amplification is occurring that is creating a reawakening of humanity on one level, spirituality on another level, and the ability to affect change all at the same time.
However, I won’t stop there and say that the interactions I have on the Internet are enough. Yes, I am personally affected by what people write to me and what I write to them. Mr. Pulver suggests that some people, through social media, are feeling deep emotions for the first time. Yes, they are and that is truly a wonderful thing since our emotional connection is our most distinct characteristic as humans.
But I would go further and say that these interactions are only the beginning of a new fabric that can be woven, of lives that can be changed and movements that can be started. These relationships cannot stop at being virtual. The real relationship starts when we sit across the table from one another and connect over all the things we have in common, when we share our passion to change the world or simply have coffee with a kindred spirit. Connecting on the Internet is only the first step.
Mr. Pulver goes on to say:
We are seeing what happens when you are living in a world where hundreds of millions of people can discover each other, and communicate directly; where barriers to entry and in fact gatekeepers slowly go away.
Social media is a powerful tool that does melt away social barriers in a way unprecedented in our world before now. However, we cannot believe that it takes the place of our most basic need to interact and connect. The interactions we have on the Internet will never satiate us for long. We will return over and over again, looking for that same hit of human connectedness. What we are really desiring is the physical hug, the real tears, the laugh we hear out loud, not written as “lol.”
As we navigate this new terrain and grapple with raising our children in a world that so effortlessly embraces new technologies, we must remember that teaching and showing our children the real interactions is even more important than teaching them to surf the internet or use a social media platform. Yes, these are important and will forever be part of their lives as they grow and the reach of social media expands. However, we cannot loose sight of our basic need, our primal pull to feel deeply the emotions that come when we sit, talk, walk, fight, and stand, hand in hand, right next to each other, touching the skin of another human being, not the keyboard.
Our emotional lives cannot only be fed sound bytes of 140 characters at a time. That is a sliver of a relationship. Relationships happen over years, over a life time of events, moments, pain and progress.
Let’s grow richly with our new technologies. Let’s grow fully and completely in a way only humans can. We must, “try them out and see where it goes, to see where it takes us, that is the blessing of being alive,” says Mr. Pulver. That is the blessing of being alive as the humble, natural creatures that we truly are.
Originally appeared at Let Children Play.
—Photo Rosaura Ochoa/Flickr