If you were asked about your life on social media, how would you describe your experience? Would you say it has changed for better or for worse? What about the internet in general? An ever enlarging source of knowledge at your fingertips? or an increasingly noisy environment? I will try to assess that for myself now.
For me, it will probably be somewhere in the middle. There are a few areas of innovations in online communication that worry me. Firstly I am worried about my critical thinking and my attention span. I regularly use social media. However, the way in which I do changed over time. I think it has for all of us and it will continue to do so.
Decreasing our attention span
Whereas I used to actively write status updates on Facebook, I now create less and less content. There is an overload of people and content on my newsfeed and I simply don’t see the use. I know that simply giving a reaction to a news article will make it show up on my friends’ news feeds. This increases the pace and decreases the efforts one needs to share an opinion or identify with something. Sometimes I catch myself not even reading past the title before reacting to an article. We actively look for an opinion we already have, in posts that come from people we like. This makes us what I will call lazy critics in finding alternate sources. Additionally we lose the attention span to take the time to research it. This is also reflected on a video we watched in our online management class. It mentioned that we “no longer search for news, but news finds us.” (Click-Thru Consulting, 2016) This news then mixes with click-bait type articles with sensational titles. I think this will continue to increase in the future, until we will reach a point where news platforms are developed that rank articles based on confirmation by users. I imagine such a platform will filter out articles that are down voted for false content and automatically bring forward the truth.
Losing a personal connection
The second area that worries me about online communication is the way we develop relationships and how we use online communication in the process. The same video I mentioned before stated that studies revealed online students to ‘outperform’ face to face students. This shocked me. I am very much a people person. I like to find out how people work, how they truly see and experience things and to form a meaningful bond with people in my life. In the future I think people will have to fight to maintain these kind of connections. Our online environment will drive us to more digital communication. It may costs us less mental and emotional energy, but I do not believe however, that a digital classroom will ever deliver the life experience that having to adjust to social circles within a physical school does. (Psychologytoday, 2014)
On the other hand, online communication shows a great advantage for the professional field. Learning WordPress, I created this website and blog and can use this now in an attempt to personally brand myself to the outside world. Additionally social media such as LinkedIn continue to add to an online visibility that creates an opportunity to clarify your story. In the near future I think your personal online footprint will literally be your CV. (Stewart, 2015)
To be honest, I think I will find my way through online communication but it will always remain a doubled-edged sword to me. We will exchange some depth to our relationships for larger social circles that communicate and share knowledge much more rapidly. I think at the core, it will challenge every generation from now on to find and stay true to themselves under heavy online influence. If this triggered you, you may also like to read about the development of narratives in our lives.
How do you think we will use online communication in the future? How will it influence us?
I’d love to see it in the comments.