Without any hesitation, I classify myself as a convert, user, and supporter of social media. I have found it to be wonderful tool for keeping in touch with family, friends and others who have similar interests. However, like so many tools and opportunities in our lives, it has its place. We have to be diligent in preventing it from controlling us. And no, I’m not referring to the stories and conspiracy theories about social media and the internet spying on us with some nefarious goal. I am referring to the tendency to allow the ease of access to this on-line world override time better spent interacting with those who matter in the real world setting. Getting hooked on the internet and social media can occur as easily as the easy access to television entertainment. Just think of the rise in the number of hours people spend in front of a television set.
Having some general concern about the public letting the “virtual” social world overwhelm us hit me last week while hanging out at my local coffee shop. I began to notice a scenario occurring between a father and his daughter. The little girl, who was around 3 years of age, could not have been more charming and well behaved.
As soon as they sat down, the father began using his smart phone to access email and social media sites. Sadly, I noticed he was ignoring his daughter. It became apparent to me that this little girl was trying in vain to get just a small amount of attention from someone she cared about. Not once did her father look up from his connection to the outside world. Here was an adorable child who was in a calm and kind manner trying to talk to her father. One began to feel a sense of sadness and frustration. Here was a special, live outing. But the one person, who with very little effort could have made this an enjoyable event for his child, felt that his social media activity was more important. Needless to say I fought the temptation to intervene and say something. At the same time I had to fight back the feelings of sadness.
I still strongly feel Social Media is a great and relevant method of maintaining or developing relationships. However, just as with all things we have easy access to, we must show care to prevent this from take the place of live interaction with our friends and family. It’s OK to put down the computer or smart phone and interact with those who matter. (CMH)