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Social Not-Working

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Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Tumblr, Pinterest, Youtube, Instagram. These are only seven of the thousands of social networking sites the world has become dependent on since 1997, when the world’s first social networking site was created. By today’s standards, if you’re not a member of at least one of these, you may not exist. This is how we shop, communicate, run businesses, meet new people. But are we a little too invested in the luxury of having the world in the palm of our hands


Everywhere you go—school, restaurants, the park, work—people are focused on their laptops and cell phones and iPads and tablets. Sharing pictures, texting, emailing, updating tweets and statuses, playing mind-numbing games -- it’s all we do. Where is the face-to-face interaction? What’s happened to the subtle art of introducing yourself to new people and savoring the process of getting to know each other, listening politely to each other’s opinions, dreams and aspirations?

It’s gone online, where absolutely anything goes, where anyone from your pastor to Vladimir Putin can read it and like it – or not. And once it’s out there, there’s no taking it back, not ever, not for sure. Do we, as humans, really think about it that way when we’re posting our most intimate secrets or sharing pictures of ourselves defying laws on Facebook? Could it be that, without even trying, we’re sharing too much of ourselves online and holding back too much in person?

Civilization requires us to cautiously consider a stroll about the neighborhood naked. Yet, we share our innermost, private moments online for strangers around the world to see and judge and spread, and there’s nothing to prevent it. Once it’s online, like wildfire, suddenly our privacy – even in our own homes -- has been scorched to nothing but ashes that smolder forever.

We’re wasting too much time gaping at memes and posting and reposting stale, cheesy teenage quotes. It’s getting old. Sadly, originality is a rarity. We slap each other’s backs and thumbs-up one another for expressing ourselves freely and expanding horizons, merrily ignoring the dystopian muck we’re standing knee-deep in. Maybe we’re not as civilized as we think. The pictures, the stories, the trends and petitions begun online, the topics and people we like – and unlike -- who knows anymore what’s even real? What would the Kardashians do? We are doubling down and dumbing down and losing the ability to think for ourselves.

And my peers, whose speech should include words that express complex ideas like ‘statuesque’ and ‘epidemic,’ instead choose words like ‘awks’ and ‘gerd.’ And the stupidity doesn't stop there. Grown men and women use those words on a daily basis. Wasn’t that what education was supposed to prevent? It seems the advancement of social networking is swiftly undoing a million years of human evolution . Words, once compelling, are feebled and foundered on sharing the trivial and trite with so-called friends and strangers. Reducing the complexity of our speech will certainly lead to our eventual inability to express higher ideas, negotiate real solutions, and dream big out loud.

And in the short-term, what else is there to worry about? By now, everyone knows about cyber bullying and its sobering effects: Harassment, homicide, humiliation, opportunities lost, relationships destroyed, senseless suicides. Is it easier to be apathetic as we are shielded behind our screens? Is it easier to be cruel in the comfort of our homes? Is this the end result of this great, trusted online networking experiment? What once was a harmless diversion, it seems, can too often be deadly.
Wake up! We are not deceitful. We are not cold-hearted. We are not monsters. Ridding the world of social networking is not the answer, but neither is continuing blindly forward on the same, doomed course. A change must be made, and it starts with each one of us. Go on a networking diet. Turn the volume down on the static. Let go of the unnecessary updates. Limit your status to daily. Keep personal things just that -- personal, and think about what you are photographing before you push that button.

In doing this, we become less dependent on mobile devices and Internet on the go. We become more in tune with our surroundings and interact face to face with our peers. Surely this self-control will spread as fast as social networking or any other trend, and we can change that course, begin moving forward, and focus again on the things that really matter.




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