Social media’s impact on our communications and interactions infiltrates all areas of society.
An assistant professor of media and cinema studies in the College of Communication at DePaul University in Chicago, Paul Booth, PhD, contends that social media affects how we relate to each other. “There has been a shift in the way we communicate; rather than face-to-face interaction, we’re tending to prefer mediated communication,” he says. “We’d rather e-mail than meet; we’d rather text than talk on the phone.” According to Booth, studies have shown that people actually are becoming more social and more interactive with others, but the style of that communication has changed so that we’re not meeting face-to-face as often as we used to.
Interactions on social media tend to be weak ties, we don’t feel as personally connected to the people at the other end of our communication as we do when we’re face-to-face. “So while we’re communicating more, we may not necessarily be building relationships as strongly,” Booth says.
Being in the service industry I am always trying to think about how much e-mailing and social media use I undertake personally when presented with the option of a face-to face or phone opportunity with another person. I don’t always get this ‘right’ mind you, but I am trying to consider it more on a timely basis rather than a reflective one (I am acutely aware of the irony here given the message and the medium!).
My own experiences over the years have been that nothing beats a face-to-face interaction with another human being to better understand where they are coming from, not lose messages ‘in translation’, and develop the skills to intuitively read body language and facial expressions
Next time you are presented with a number of mediums from which to interact with someone else, stop and give some thought to what might be most appropriate relationally, not just in terms of the information or message that requires conveying.