Does Social Media Cause Social Isolation?

Is the increased use of social media causing us to become socially isolated? Is it changing the way we interact, resulting in our youth not learning how to communicate face to face?  My answer is that I don’t know.  There are arguments and studies that argue for both sides.  There have been studies that show that social media does cause isolation. People use Facebook and twitter to stay distant.  You no longer use the phone to actually have conversations.  People can read what others are doing and never actually post or interact. Twitter is 140 characters.  Limited interaction.  You also see people who are using social media while with other people. I often see kids walking down the street together but at the same time they are using their phones to communicate at the same time.  They are together, but they are not together at the same time.

At the same time, social media allows you to stay in touch with people you might lose track of over the years.  You continue a relationship that might otherwise have ended.  This does not look like it isolates people, in fact quite the opposite.  Social media allows people to find others who share interests and have conversations with like-minded individuals who share interests and opinions.  This also demonstrates that social media can be seen as a way to broaden our circle of friends and acquaintances which is a far cry from being the cause of social isolation.

It is a hard question to answer.  I really don’t know. I see my children as they are growing up in an age that is completely different to when I grew up.  They are constantly connected, well the 14 year old is.  The 10 year old does not have a phone, so her access is much more limited.  However, she wants a phone and wants to be connected.  My daughter has a wide network of people she communicates with. But it is not similar to the hours I spent on the phone at 14.  She talks to many people at a time, jumping from texting to Facebook to Snapchat to twitter.  She Facetimes and so she does have real conversations with some of her friends.  She seems to have a lot of contact and friends, however, she goes out less than I did. She talks to all her friends via her electronics instead of going out and meeting at the park.  She can talk to them all at once and so they do not need to meet in person.  Is this a form of social isolation?  Maybe.  But bottom line is that she is talking to people and has friends.

I think that it will be interesting to see how this generation evolves and it can be measured in long term studies to see how social media really does affect the way we interact.  For now, I think it has changed things, but I am not sure if it is causing negative effects, or we just need to accept that things change, including the way in which we reach out and communicate.

 

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Social Media Has Changed Communication Forever

“The ability to connect and engage with people and information anywhere, anytime, and on any device is fundamentally changing everything we know about how we work, how we lead, and how we manage, and it all started with the consumer web and social media.”  Five Ways Social Media has Forever Changed the Way We Work

The way in which we communicate in every aspect of our life is so different to when I was a child, it is hard to believe.  My generation has seen so much change that our children don’t understand how different it was for us as kids.  I mean there has always been that gap between parents and their children…when I was a kid we had to walk 5 miles to school and back every day in the snow and uphill both ways…that kind of thing.  But now, today, there is no denying that the differences are massive and they are evolving at a rapid rate that has no end in sight.

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Social media has changed so much about the way I communicate at work and at home and everywhere in between.  I no longer use the phone at home.  In fact, I am not even sure why I have a land line. It only rings when someone wants to sell me something.  I don’t use the phone at work very often either.  I only pick it up to call someone when they are not responding to my email or to my message through Facebook.  Those people tend to be the few that are not going to “buckle to pressure” and become tech savvy.  They want to keep it the old way and use the phone.  I don’t watch television much anymore.  Again, I am not sure why I have satellite TV.  I stream everything or use YouTube to see content and keep up to date on the world news.  When I want a book from the library, I go to their website and search their catalogue online. If I can get the e-version, I download it.  Or I put a hold on it and go to the library to get it.  No more card catalogues.  If I want to research something, I google it.  No more going to do research and reading books anymore.  It is a few clicks and a few more clicks until I find what I am looking for.

If I want to tell people about what is happening in my life or an event coming up for work, I use Facebook, twitter and LinkedIn.  I very rarely use Canada Post and this Christmas, due to the huge hike in postage fees, I will no longer send any Christmas cards.  I will do e-cards this year.  Another complete change in the way I communicate with people.  I love to get the cards and display them on a string, showing all who enter my living room that there are many people out there who care about me and my family.  This year, I have no expectation to receive cards, nor will I be part of the tradition that has been with me my whole life.  Why?  Social media.  I can wish everyone I know, and some I don’t, Happy Holidays with the click of a button.  I can use pic monkey and my digital camera to create a personal greeting and then click, I have just sent it out and communicated my message to everyone.  It becomes instant and saves me money and time.

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I think that my generation is unique in the changes in communications we have seen due to the invention of social media in the past 20 years.  I also think that my children will see change, but nothing like what I have seen.  They do not understand my large collection of CD’s and how it took hours to arrange them alphabetically.  They download music, always have, and they can organize and re-organize it with a click of a button.  They also will never see a card catalogue at the library.  Well, they might see it, but they would never need to pull out a drawer to find a book and understand the Dewey Decimal system.  They just google what they need and don’t even crack open the massive texts we had to scour to prove our theory in a paper.  They don’t understand getting up to change a channel, nor do they understand that we did not have VCR’s or 24 hour kids programs on channels dedicated to them.  We had Mr. Dress-up at 10am on Monday to Friday and if you missed it, you could not watch it later on line.  Christmas specials were watched when they were programmed.  Now, you can buy or stream it any time.  The whole way we do things has changed forever.  When the internet crashes, at work and at home, we are lost.  We should just go home from work because we just cannot do anything productive.  The change in my time has been massive and has changed the way I do things in every aspect of my life.  I think I am one of the unique in that this much change can never happen again.  We really do have the right to tell our kids how different our childhoods were.  Of course, they will roll their eyes, the same way I did with my parents.  That form of communication will NEVER change.

How Much Has Social Media Changed Society

5 Ways Social Media Will Change the Way You Work in 2013

Instant News IS What We Want

thJian Ghomeshi. This is a name that everyone knows. If they did not before, they do now.  The recent allegations about his behaviour were all over the internet.  Report after report came shortly after he released his own statement on Facebook, a pre-emptive strike about his being fired for his behaviour behind closed doors.  The Toronto Star released their article almost immediately and the supporters came out to tell how they supported Jian.  Politicians, past guests, colleagues and his protégé came out and refuted the allegations of the women in the original article. And then, more information came to light.  More women made accusations and suddenly, those who supported him changed their minds.  They did damage control.  He must be guilty after women who were not longer anonymous had come forward.

So like any other big story, the media continued to produce articles and posts and tweets and photos that were all directed at proving Jian Ghomeshi was a bad man that needs to be punished. This is the magic of the instant news we have come to expect.  You no longer need to wait for tomorrow’s headline.  You can read many posts and many articles in the same day.  Is this instant news a good thing or not?  Do writers get their information out to the world before there has been a chance to check all the facts or is it a more honest and transparent way to get out information?  Do we want to read all the articles that they can turn out, especially about bad behaviours?

untitledI think we do. Even more recently, Phil Reed, the drummer for AC/DC was charged in a murder-for-hire plot. Again, within hours, the world knew.  Posts about his background, his addictions, and his life filled the internet. Comments showed that people around the world were reading about him and wanted more. It seems that we want to know what people are doing, right away. Of course, charges were dropped in the Phil Reed case, but the world already knew the accusations.

These are only two recent instances of how we accept and want information right now. It does not matter if the information is correct or if is complete.  We are interested in getting it as it happens, whether or not that will reflect what really happens.  Social media has changed the landscape of how we get information, what information we get and how quickly we get it. I am not sure there is any empirical data that can prove that as a society, we want the juicy details as soon as we can get it and then we want more, but I think that the more we get used to this type of getting info, the more we move away from the older, only once daily dose of news.

Sample articles for post:

Star Fires Jian Ghomeshi

Rudd Charged

Social Media Can Level the Playing Field for Charities

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There is no question that social media has changed the way people communicate and live their daily lives.  So it is no wonder that social media also has played a huge role in how fundraising has changed in world of the not-for-profit and the way that these organizations fundraise.  Charities, big and small, now have the ability to reach out and tell their stories and garner support on the world-wide-web.  This is a game changer.

 

Fundraising is always a challenge.  More and more not-for-profits are created each year and the competition for donor dollars is fierce.  In the past, before the use of social media, charities had to use direct mail, telephone and face to face methods in order to communicate and ask for support from donors.  These methods were expensive and limited in their geographical range. It is no surprise that the larger charities, with more resources, were successful in growing their donor base and annual revenues and smaller charities struggled and even folded.  The large got larger, the small…not so much.  And then social media came along.  The playing field started to change.  Suddenly, the ability to tell your story and gain support was available to every charity and for little to no money.  Every charity could start a facebook page and a twitter account with no investment.  Now, not-for-profits could reach people around the world to tell their story, no matter what their size or mission.  This has been incredible for the small charity and allowed them to compete with the big charities.

 

Of course, the investment then becomes populating the social media sites, understanding the demographics and how they use social media, how to use the different types of applications and having the human resources to do that. It is not easy and not all small charities have figured out that they should be looking at how they can use social media to their benefit.  The argument that seems to be most prevelant within the small charities is that they do not have the resources, namely time, to put together a social media strategy and actually do the research and then follow through.  I disagree. Working in a small charity, there is always a way.  You use what you have and then you look for those who have what you need to get to where you need to be.  Volunteers, high school kids who need volunteer hours, marketing companies that will donate in-kind…where there is a will, there is a way.  The larger organizations have the resources on staff.  They hire who they need to get out their story and garner support.  Smaller organization have more challenges, but this is an opportunity that can’t be overlooked.  Social media evens the playing field.  It just means that small organizations have to work smart to utilize the tools that open the world up to them.

 

For more info on how not-for-profits can benefit, check out these articles.

Increased social network can have big payoff for nonprofits, study shows

12 Must-Know Stats About Social Media, Fundraising, and Cause Awareness

How Social Media Has Changed How We Give

 

SNAPCHAT…Should Parents Be Afraid?

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I have a 14 year old daughter and she uses SNAPCHAT.  A lot. It is the go to app for her and her friends.  And it made me afraid.  Very afraid.  I did not understand the attraction and I had heard the hype in the media about how it was a way for teens to sext each other.  Imagine my fear.  I was thinking that maybe my young daughter would be taking inappropriate photos of herself and sending them to others.  Had I not been made aware of all the negative about SNAPCHAT, I do not think I would have even considered that my 14 year old was partaking in such behaviour.  There was also the fact that I could not monitor what she was doing or receiving.  Photos disappear in 1 – 10 seconds and are only visible to her and the friends that she chooses to be able to see her snaps.  Twitter, Facebook and Instagram all allow the parent to monitor and watch (for the most part) what is going on.  Photos do no disappear.  You can see the selfies and the photos your child shares.  SNAPCHAT is a whole different animal.   According to Adam McLane, you should delete SNAPCHAT and so should your kids.  His article, Why You Should Delete SNAPCHAT gives many reasons to not allow your children to use this app.  It raises all the fear a parent would need to try and stop the use of this app by their children.

I have to say that at first, I listened to the fear mongering. In fact I demanded that my child remove the app from her phone.  A week later, I did a random check.  It was back on her phone.  Again, I demanded it be taken off and explained my fear of not being able to control the content that was going out and coming in to her phone.  A few more spot check, a few more catching her with the app and forcing the removal and many tears I decided to do some research.  I started by asking her friends why they use the app.  Not one of them talked about sexting.  They didn’t even seem to think it was something they wanted to do.  It was just a fun way to communicating that was faster than texting or uploading photos.  It was immediate and pictures are so much better than words in many cases.  I started to read up on SNAPCHAT.   Articles like Tech Teens Loving SNAPCHAT, What Parents Need to Know helped to educate me.

kids texting

I found out it really is used by teens and college students. It is immediate and fun.  Kids love to use it. Sexting can be an issue, but if they are going to post that kind of stuff, it can be on any app, not just SNAPCHAT.  It is one of the fastest growing apps and it too is evolving.  You can do SNAPCHAT stories that stick around 24 hours and let the user create a story about their day.  It really was not what I had thought and the more I listened to the kids describe why they use it and how much fun it is, I realized that maybe I had it wrong.  Maybe the way your child uses the internet and puts themself out there is more about their values and moral compass than it is about having the ability to sext.  So, I have given myself some credit for being a parent who continually talks to my children about the real dangers of being on the internet and what can happen if you are not aware and safe.  I now let my daughter use SNAPCHAT and I feel I have done my duty as her parent to become informed and educated about the app and then trust her to use it appropriately.

YOU WANT ME TO PAY FROM MY PHONE? (COM0011)

Smartphone pay_001Digital wallets are coming soon to a town near you…or are they? Google, Paypal, Visa, American Express, and now Apple have all invested in the future of virtual payments or paying without cash or cards. The concept is that all transactions will be done using your smart phone. A touch or a swipe and you are all paid up. Using NFC (near field communication) technology, you  simply wave or tap your phone on a NFC terminal and voila, transaction completed. The NFC technology is the same as what you are seeing in stores for cards that have the “tap” chip. No more putting in pin codes and swiping or inserting.  It is now just a quick wave over the machine and your payment is complete. Your account is debited and it is all done with a paperless, painless swipe.

For more info on the technology check out these articles. thinisinthefutureofdigitalwallets, Digital Wallets – 10 Mobile Payment Systems To Take You There

So far, much of this advanced digital wallet advancement is happening in the US. Google wallet is not available in Canada and Apple Pay has just been unveiled this past month. In fact the NFC technology required in a smartphone has just been introduced in the iPhone 6 versions (it has been in many androids for a couple years now). So is the digital wallet going to take over in Canada and be the way of the future? Some think it will come to Canada fast and furious, now that Apple has entered the game. Others disagree. There are some big challenges with digital wallets, two of which are the reason that I think Canadians might not be putting all their eggs into one basket so quickly.

Woman paying with NFC technology on mobile phone, in supermarketThe first hurdle is the merchants.  It seems unlikely that retailers will accept this new technology and invest in upgrading to accept NFC from phones before there is proof that this is what their customers demand. This can be seen in the fact that although NFC has been out there with tap cards for while now, you still are not able to use it in the majority of stores you visit. Many are not ready to invest in upgrading again.  Retailers have already upgraded recently to accept new chip technology. The expense to upgrade will be too much for many retailers. As fast as they upgrade, new devices come along.  And for the consumer, they want to use what they have. Tim Jones, Founder of Mondex states, “Consumers want to be able to make a payment in any shop, using any of the cards they have, using any handset.”  The lack of cooperation between competing banks, carriers and retailers will not support the need to collectively work together to adopt this new technology.  See Digital Wallets Suffer Lack of Collective Spirit, Hurdles Remain to Digital Wallet Dream in Canada

The second hurdle is consumers. Will Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation take to paying virtually? Yes, there are a healthy amount of people in this age group who are very connected and up on technology, but there are also many who still pay their bills at the bank and who will not even use a bank machine. There is a fear of the virtual payment. There is a fear of the cloud and who can access that cloud. Much of it is lack of understanding, some of it is stubbornness, and some is just a preference to pay in cash or by cheque. Many Canadians will not adapt to digital wallets and because of this, retailers, who need to offer a user friendly method of payment for everyone, might not be so fast to move on this lunge forward into virtual payments.

It seems that Apple, Google, PayPal and many others think we are ready for digital wallets now. They seem positioned to pounce on  the latest technology and the ability to profit from it. Don’t get me wrong, I think it will happen….eventually.  For now, however,  I think we will see small steps forward and maybe a few steps back before it becomes the norm.

Old Guy in Glasses Looking at Phone Confused Just picture the man in line at the store who counts out his change, slowly and methodically when paying. You can hear him if you try…”You want me to pay with my phone????” Maybe not as soon as they would like.