We are now undoubtedly residing in the digital age, and social media is one of the main platforms for conversation. We have accounts for ourselves, for our businesses, our hobbies and even accounts for our pets, all in the name of having conversations online. But has this dominance of social media started changing the way we think? Let’s examine some of the key influence points…
It’s Changed The Way We Talk
Have you ever said the word ‘LOL’ out loud? Did the word ‘Selfie’ even exist 5 years ago? Maybe abbreviated sentences or cut out syllables to make things quicker to say? Text speak and social media go together like green eggs and ham, and it’s not surprising that it’s started to seep into our everyday language. Whether it’s shortening words and sentences or simple adding new words to our vocabulary, there is no denying social media is having a marked impact on the evolution of our language.
Our Friendships Will Never Be The Same
In the good old days if you wanted to talk to your friends, you picked up the phone or walked over to their house. You waited to talk to them at school, at work or down the pub on Friday night. Whichever method you chose, there was a personal connection involved, and this included the audio and visual clues to good conversation that go along with it. Now we message our friends online, relying on little symbols called ‘emoji’s’ to show our emotions. Almost everyone reading this will have, at some point in their life, misunderstood the meaning of a text because there were no physical clues to help them out. A playful insult with a smile and wink in person can start a raging argument over text, because there is no indicator that this is a joke. We have also changed the way we value friendships. If we have 300 friends on Facebook, we count that as having loads of friends, despite the fact that we haven’t seen or spoken to some of them in years. Our friendships are now being measured more and more by the interaction we have on social media, and not by the real life encounters.
Anyone Can be An Expert
Thanks to the Internet and social media, anyone with a keyboard can voice an opinion and expect it to be heard and worshiped by the online world. Blogging sites are popping up like rabbits, letting everyone have a voice. We think this is fantastic – as it raises the profile of brilliant people who would never have a voice otherwise. On the other hand, it has created a mire of fraudsters, bloggers of questionable character and downright idiots, all of whom can sound convincing. On the flip side of that coin, it has made us very good at sniffing out bullshitters and understanding when something is fact and when it is opinion, or just a downright lie.
Think back even a few years ago. Would you keep a photo album full of your own photos? Hundreds of pictures of yourself pouting and posing, trying to get the perfect shot? No, of course not! But in the age of social media this is what we find – and it is reinforced with ‘likes’ and ‘followers’. Networks like Instagram were developed to allow us to post pictures of ourselves, our food and our cats all over the Internet, and while this can be a bonding exercise for some, it is pure vanity to others.
Romantic Relationships Have Morphed
In the past, if you wanted to go on a date your would ask a friend to set you up, go to a singles bar or perhaps dip your toe into speed dating. But with the Internet came the invention of online dating, and the world was forever changed. We’re not saying online dating is a new thing – it’s as old as the Internet, but social media has rapidly changes the way we (particularly the young ones) are viewing relationships. Tinder is one of the biggest culprits here – it created the dating-hook-up hybrid and opened up the doors for ‘cool’ online dating for youths. Profiles on online dating sites went through the roof, and it’s not surprising that we can see changes in the way we view relationships. Often now, dating is just for passing fancies and quick flings, not for settling down and finding ‘the one’. It’s easy to forget that in a culture of instant gratification like social media, relationships are broken as easily as they’re forged.
Now we aren’t the people to be bashing social media – we think it’s great! It opens up new avenues for business, helps you find lots loved ones, reconnect with old friends and has inspired communities to band together in the interest of a common goal. But it has undeniably changed the way we think and act, and this has a knock on effect in the way we form relationships in our personal and business lives, as well as the way we communicate with each other. So next time you go to say ‘LOL’, stop and think – would I have said this 10 years ago?