by S. Wilborn-Gentry
While social media is an outstanding means to share, create, and exchange ideas with people we may never have known otherwise, posting and tweeting has also become a means of separating those who should be closest. In many instances, it has replaced face to face interaction and altered the way we date, parent, and communicate in general.
Unsupervised, our children are exposed to a world that they have no idea how to navigate. Strangers, accepted as friends, have become a means of measuring how they think and feel about themselves. I wonder if we are “following” in a way that is potentially “leading” to the destruction of real relationships and meaningful exchange.
Many turn to Facebook and Twitter to relieve themselves of frustration rather than working to resolve issues in a meaningful way. Of course, social media is a wonderful tool for voicing our opinions regarding things like social and political issues. Just look at how it helped to organize and move things forward following the Trayvon Martin verdict. However, resolution of personal conflict is best handled privately.
Teachable moments often become missed opportunities because parents and children are living their lives through the machines of Facebook and Twitter. Texting has replaced conversations and many parents are getting to know their teenage children through Facebook and Instagram posts. Rather than experiencing the wonder of being fully present in the miracle of life, social media has made it easy to create a pretend existence.
Recently, I attended a musical recital. I noticed that many of the parents witnessed the entire event through the lenses of their iphones. I certainly understand the importance of capturing and sharing special times. Let’s face it, who doesn’t enjoy the occasional digital photo book trip down memory lane. However, what and how we share is often superficial. It is more important that we put down the smart phones and ipads and get back to interacting in a way that connects rather than separates us.