The Need for Real Contact

With no offense intended to those reading this blog, I have been thinking that conversations via social media are not really conversations that matter, if they are conversations at all. Sitting down in front of a computer screen and “talking” on Facebook or other vehicles is not having a conversation that matters to anyone. Some people might argue that with the web and other social media people can discuss important issues with anyone, anytime and that is a powerful tool for resolving problems. The reality doesn’t support that idea – quite the opposite.

For those of us that remember having a real conversation face to face with anther human being, the exchange of verbal and non-verbal communication can be meaningful. Having a conversation face to face with someone tends to have a moderating effect because you are not just talking to a screen. I doubt any disagreements on issues are resolved on line. Most people only talk to other people on-line who think and believe the same. The social media “bubble” corrupts the ability of people to resolve problems and disputes, and it creates an alternative reality. If you have an opportunity to witness a face to face conversation between a Trump supporter and an Anti-Trump person discussing an important problem such as climate change you can see how social media has corrupted us. Very little listening goes on. It’s less a conversation than a serial repetition of cliché, sound bites and a profound disagreement about basic science and objective facts.

Someone typing a keyboard is not having a conversation, they are watching their own words and listening to their own ideas. Press the “enter” key and in a minute they get to react to someone else talking with themselves with a personal insult, sarcasm, or some other type of rebuttal. There is no attempt to listen, to understand or to clarify. There is no attempt to find mutual agreement on any issue, or even a mutually agreeable way to end the conversation. Just change the site, delete the conversation, or sign off. There is no need to feel guilty or ashamed of the words you use or the hurt inflicted on another human being. The only thing that happens during these on-line exchanges are attempts to convince another person that you are right and they are wrong.

A blog is an attempt to share ideas and stimulate thought. It’s not intended to be a conversation. Most of the blogs I am proud about are the ones stimulated by talking with another person in person. There have been so many studies on the deleterious effects of video viewing on the human brain, including structural damage to younger children. Do we really need to have studies on the deleterious effect of social media on socialization? It’s obvious that we need to talk with our mouths, not with our fingers, and to a human being and not a video screen.



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