Social media is an excellent tool, reconnecting old friends and lost family.
It brings loved ones closer without expensive over sea phone calls – and with a constant feed of their best moments at the tip of your fingers, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Surely this is the dream, right?
But what about when Auntie Susan’s controversial pro-Trump updates get a little…well, overbearing? Or your work friend Karl shares a few too many racist memes?
It’s just not something you want to be baring witness to is it. Although it is a little addictive in a sort of love to hate, Keeping Up With The Kardashians way…
But how have these people you thought you knew so well developed these cyber-egos?
Or has your judgment been wrong all this time?
And now what? Do you confront them about their social media monster and risk ruining an otherwise co-operative relationship? Or do you sit back and watch, helplessly cringing, hoping it is all a bad joke and Auntie Susan will go back to uploading pictures of her lovely cat, Norris.
People are sharing their thoughts like an unfiltered, virtual diary, throwing caution to the wind. Besides, who gives a damn what poor Grandma will think when reading the conversation beneath your photo, retelling the Saturday night tales of the drugs you bought in a bathroom stall or the taxi you got thrown out of for vomiting on the backseat…
There is some content that should never make its way to certain audiences. Yet we continue.
Have we detached our cyber selves from our waking life? Have we reverted back to a child like state of ‘if I can’t see you, you can’t see me’? Well if that’s so, I’m going to be the barer of bad news – because we CAN see you, all of us!
And it could be doing serious damage to our relationships and the way we view each other.
With behavioural scientists already confirming that social media is linked to social anxiety and can stifle a young persons ability to learn the art of conversation, it is possible the cyber seeds we’re sewing may not be something we are going to be confronting each other about in a hurry.
And with the safety blanket of a smart device to whip out at any given moment why would you enter into the awkward, hot waters of face to face confrontation?
Yes, we choose not to meet them on their own turf but tackle them online.
A big no-no. With a screen to hide behind, people are proven to be more likely to lash out in a way they would not face-to-face and far less likely to respond co-operatively – call it 21st century dutch courage – keyboard warrior.
All of this leads to what studies have already found to be (ironically) social media fueled loneliness.
Social media can be fantastic, sharing news and views that don’t make it to radio or television, giving people a voice and, of course, stopping old friends losing touch.
But with the average person spending four hours a day on their device – that’s right, a quarter of their waking hours hooked to a monitor – are we really in control of it, or is it in control of us?