As stated above.
There seems to be an underlying assumption floating around that things like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, email, chatrooms, texting, and yes even message boards/forums are somehow inferior to other forms of communication such as telephone conversations, written letters, or face to face communication.
Many times when discussing these forms of media I will see a response of “turn off X and go outdoors” or “social media is destroying our ability to communicate properly”. But I don’t often hear an explanation of WHY the person believes such things. I generally feel as if it’s the newness or the technology itself that people protest.
It also seems as if the biggest opponents of social media are people who are naturally gifted at communication. They don’t see the need for it because face to face communication comes easy to them. These people don’t take into account the difficulties people with social phobias or autistic disorders experience with face to face communication. And then there are introverts, like myself, who find most face to face communication exhausting. I can stomach a few hours of people, but after that I’m a wreck and need days of solitude to recharge. This leaves me with quite the pickle because I do get lonely and I do need social interaction. It’s a catch 22 situation, when I’m with people I’m exhausted, when I’m alone I’m lonely.
But then comes social media and I find a middle path. Talking to people through Facebook, or forums such as this one doesn’t drain me the way face to face communication does. And it gives me time to measure my responses in a way that the telephone does not. I was so bitterly lonely in High School before I had the Internet, and now I’m content with life.
There’s also a woman I’m reminded of who had Autism so bad that she couldn’t speak. Everyone thought she was mentally handicapped. Then some bright person gave her a computer and taught her to type. Now she has a famous blog and proves to everyone how articulate and intelligent she really is. If you met her face to face, to this day, you wouldn’t be able to see any of that, but online she shines.
And then there’s the recent events my own father experienced. He joined Facebook for fun and hardly ever used it, then one day he decided to search for a long lost girlfriend… and found her. They’ve fallen in love and I’ve never seen him so happy. Soon after that he was reunited with two friends he hadn’t seen in decades. Facebook didn’t stunt his emotional growth or ruin his ability to communicate, it actually did just the opposite.
TL;DR: I would like to discuss the merits of social media and whether or not it measures up to forms of communication that have been around for longer periods of time.