Hiding Behind the Tweet, Why Social Media Isn’t Social Enough

We spend more of our lives than ever on our computers, cell phones, and iPads—but what are we missing? We are missing the act of being social. Despite the label, Social Media just isn’t social enough. Why do I say this, while using a Social Media platform to get my message across? It’s not personal…and that’s my point. I know I can reach you here and you will see this message – but there is nothing very personal about the interaction with you, nothing personal about our communication with each other.

I’m talking about human communication, the kind where you use either your voice (even via phone) or where you look in someone’s eyes and talk to a real person. I know technology saves time, and, yes, with Skype, FaceTime, and others we can “see” each other. It has taken us places we never thought we would go, but my huge complaint is that it is robbing us of our breadth of human gifts of expression. Human beings speak, we express all kinds of emotions – we use our bodies to support what we are saying – powerful skills that have been replaced by a “smiley face”.

The “hiding” aspect arises every time we see a telephone number and know who it is – and don’t pick up; every time we text instead of call; every time we call instead of visit. These are all common behaviors born of technological advances that we’ve come to hide behind. It’s much safer this way. We adapted to protect ourselves.

My work is helping people to improve their presentation and communication skills, including all kinds of public speaking. What I have observed in the past few years is a major disconnect when people try to communicate in person. It’s just so much easier to ‘tweet’ it or email it. People get “off the hook” with outrageous emails and tweets that express everything from “I want a divorce,” to “we have decided to fire you,” to “I love you so much!”

My intent is to point out that major life and emotional challenges are being “tweeted” away. We are not taking emotional responsibility for what is going on in our lives. Humans are losing their humanity to technology and its way it is out of balance. There is a separation from the natural, interpersonal ways of communicating.

In the corporate world, leaders and teams have taken a major hit when it comes to building trust, respect, and understanding. Too much “tweeting” of opinions and feedback leads to misunderstanding, mistrust, and a lack of cohesion. So much of our work in the last few years has been reconnecting people with their voices…convincing people to take the time whenever possible to actually speak their “tweets.” This has not been an easy accomplishment. People feel like they are going backwards, especially in the business world.

Where are we headed – instant communication, minus the hassle of human interaction? Every day we get more attached to our computers and iphones and less connected to nature and each other.

What is the most common human body position you observe nowadays? How about a person standing or sitting hunched over with a cell phone in their hands? Whatever happened to just watching the world go by or talking with a fellow human?

We need to find more of a balance between the technological and natural worlds, because in the end, Social Media just isn’t social enough.

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