Changing Social Landscape

Our social landscape has changed. Some will point to the fact that Facebook, along with other like social sites are responsible. I think they’re just bringing it to a climactic end. I believe it started long before the Internet. The dissolving of our social behavior can be linked to more than just the World Wide Web. With the advent of cable television there’s no longer a need to get together to see the latest blockbuster. Wait a couple of months, you can sit relaxing in your own living room, watch it there. Let’s not forget the coming of age of home video renting, which also made it easier to just stay in. Now they’re even gone. Stream it live. We don’t even have to leave or worry about late fees. When kids wanted to go to the arcade to play video games or hang out with their friends, mom or dad would take them and find their own social desire; it would be considered family time. Now kids can play the games at home on the computer saving the family time and money, but diminishing the social interaction.

The contact with others is being replaced by the sound of a keyboard instead of the human voice. Studies have shown when families are out to eat at a fast food restaurant the adults are on their electronic devices up to 80% of the time during dinner. The children are not learning how to have a conversation with another person. They’re not learning how to read body language along with facial expressions, the inflection of how someone responds to a question. Instead it’s cold words on a screen void of any emotion or colorful banter. The way this generation is learning to be social has nothing to do with being social.

When I was younger my parents belonged to a couple of social clubs. They would spend at least one night out of their weekend visiting with like-minded friends, being social. As this generation closes out the social club will die right with it. It was at these clubs that they would sit and converse, talk about the latest sports, political/social headlines, etc. They would do it over a cold beer, dinner or snack. They were not conducted via a keyboard and a computer screen.

You knew who you were talking too. You could see how they really responded during your conversation. Their response could change the direction of the discussion. You would know how they felt because you would see the reaction. You would hear the anger, humor, and concern in their voice. Now it’s a screen with cold two-dimensional words with no emotion at all to your quandary, joke or concern. You could be talking to several people at the same time; their answer just typed with no real concern.

In fact, back in the day of social clubs they were not the place to go for getting drunk. It was a place to socialize, to see your friends. I can remember being at my parents club along with other kids whose parents stopped by. There would be club picnics, Christmas parties for the whole family. The place would be packed everyone knowing everyone else. Even the generation that is coming in, or is in place now, is not the same socially. 

My generation saw the beginning of cable TV and video games. My kids were brought up with that technology surrounding them. I did my best to keep it at a minimum. But alas, I was just as guilty at exploring this newfound form of entertainment. So imagine what it’s like now. The world is available to be explored because of this technology. We can do it without even going outside. Why take a ride, fight the lines, high prices, traffic? The alternative is to stay home, stay dry, stay warm or cool. No wonder we just stay in. We are becoming a social-less people. The interaction between individuals is slowly being dismantled. In some cases we get home push the garage door opener, wave to the neighbor, close the garage door along with closing out the world. 

I am not complaining or trying to berate this technology; it’s just an observation. Its been pointed out that you could get too much of a good thing. Could it be, our desire, fulfillment, joy, and longing to interact with people is being replaced by electronics? Why not unplug, shut down, and step outside to see what technology can’t give you. Enjoy the social interaction with others, or a live colorful pallet on a spring day. How about feeling a cool breeze on a summer day, or hear laughter instead of seeing an LOL on a screen? Why not play with your friends instead of pressing a button in order to feel the excitement?

God made us to be interactive on a human level. He saw it was not good for man to be alone. He made us social. So instead of pressing the buttons on a keyboard, press them on a phone, call a family member or a friend. Make it a point to get outside; talk, laugh, play, see a movie. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you do it live, without technology. 

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