Social media has changed how we communicate, but for better or worse? For every article that discusses how social media is making us dumber and less satisfied, another highlights how our personal connections have improved.
So which is it? Social media is a communication tool, and what determines the effectiveness of any tool is how it is used. Therefore, social media can detract or enhance the way we communicate. To illustrate this point, here are a few examples:
+ Today, social media is breaking news stories first, and people have more information readily available than ever before.
– Quicker isn’t necessarily better, especially when even the major media players are misreporting.
+ In a world of microblogging and 140-character limits, communicators must eliminate the “fluff” and get right to the point – delivering their message succinctly and effectively.
– To adapt to social media, we have shortened our communication style, which in turn may be shortening our attention spans.
+ Social media has enhanced human connectivity, bringing together like-minded people across the globe and connecting friends and family separated by distance.
– Some people are so focused on relationships that exist in the social media realm that they miss valuable connections they could make in person.
After considering the above examples and reviewing several articles on the topic, I have come to the conclusion that social media isn’t necessarily positive or negative… it’s natural.
The presence and influence of social media is a normal and natural evolution of how we communicate. As Josh Rose wrote in his Mashable article, “Social media simultaneously draws us nearer and distances us. But I think very often, we lament what we miss and forget to admire what we’ve become. And it’s human nature to want to reject the machine at the moment we feel it becoming ubiquitous. We’ve seen it with the printing press, moving pictures, television, video games and just about any other advanced technology that captures our attention.”
Understanding that social media is a tool and just that, it’s up to us to decide how we use it. Rather than focusing on the debate of whether social media is positive or negative (as there are both benefits and drawbacks), it is more important that communicators focus on learning to adapt. Those who view the current movement as natural will be best equipped to adjust to the ever-evolving communication landscape.