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Avoiding the real conversation

Written by Quasha Ross

 

Our social skills need reviving.

Just the other day I met up with an old friend and we began talking about the new things in our lives– soon I began to notice that our conversation transitioned into long pauses and awkward silence. This was the same friend that I sent over 600 text messages to and retweeted pretty frequently on Twitter. Now that I was speaking with her face-to-face, I couldn’t figure out what to say. I definitely felt like my social skills were dying and needed to be resuscitated.  After meeting up with this old friend and running out of conversation, I began thinking about why my social skills had taken a nose dive.

Today, we live in a world that shelters us from being social. Facebook, Twitter and texting, make it easy for us to forget that every now and then we have to do some “in person” communicating. Some individuals spend countless hours scrolling through Facebook pictures and statuses of people they rarely talk to, or worse, haven’t talked to in years. Because of this, it’s hard to tell if people are genuine and honest about their emotions when they tweet, text, Facebook or email. Using myself as an example,  I’ve sent many text messages with smiley faces when I wasn’t really smiling and I’ve also used the acronym, LOL (laugh out loud) and I wasn’t laughing at all.

Let’s face it– there are ruthless consequences to only communicating through technology. Many of you have seen the new MTV series Catfish. Nev explores the lives of many people who have supposedly found love online, but once these lovebirds meet face-to-face, one of the two finds that the other person isn’t exactly who they said they were. One episode documented a man named Tyler who was extremely in love with his online girlfriend Amanda, but once he went to meet his online love, he discovered that Amanda was actually a guy named Aaron. Aaron was just another face behind a computer screen.

Other people use technology to avoid confrontation, such as breaking up with a significant other through text messages. If someone says or does something you don’t agree with online, you can block them, flag them, ignore them or unfriend them. In face-to-face interactions it is not that simple. You can’t just push a block button and rid yourself of a person you don’t like–you actually have to figure out the situation without online policies. You have to use your social skills to guide you through every interaction you encounter, whether it is positive or negative.

As we live our lives through technology, it becomes easy to get preoccupied with the many friends we’ve made online, not realizing that many of those friends we’ve never met and never will meet. We don’t understand that some of our parents, who have not quite caught on to texting, would rather hear our voices about how our day went rather than read it in a text message. Many of our relationships through technology have been set on superficial grounds and are solely based on our likes and loves. We join social groups based on our favorite music, video games, TV shows and sports. We fail to see that those around us, in the flesh, have the same interests that we do, but our social skills have been relinquished to that of technology.

Our social skills need to be revived. Our family and friends need to get to know who we are in person. Let’s stop maximizing our technology, and start maximizing our “in person” time with others.

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