Recently, the internet has been awash with videos and blogs aimed at demonstrating how reliant we have become on our tech, particularly with regards to social media. Various videos have gone viral and many are re-posting – slightly ironically – in order to show others how much we can miss out on when we have our heads buried in our smartphones and laptops.
It is true that many of us equate time on social networking sites as meaningful communication and to a certain extent it is. The message highlighted by these various films and poems however is that we are becoming a society in which meaningful, face-to-face conversation is being replaced by a need to be present as an online entity at all times.
Extraordinary Stephen Sutton
The true benefits of social networking for the purposes of good are being forgotten. A heart-breaking example of the power of social networking sites for the promotion of charity organisations, such as Facebook, is the story of teenage cancer sufferer Stephen Sutton. Diagnosed with incurable cancer, Stephen created a bucket list of things he wanted to achieve before his untimely passing and decided to share these events, as well as document his condition as it progressed, on Facebook. His story went viral extremely quickly and his aim to raise £10,000 was surpassed almost immediately with the current total standing £3.2million. His story has reached the furthest parts of the world, with thousands of people now aware of him and his condition. Tragically, Stephen passed away 14 May 2014. Celebrities have used their popularity to sing his praises and help raise even more awareness, however, this may not have been possible to this extent had it not been for the power of global social networking sites.
The Selfless Selfie
Another recent viral idea was the No Make-Up Selfie which encouraged girls to take off their make-up and don bare faces in their profile pictures to raise awareness for breast cancer research. Whilst the idea was hotly debated, with many accusing the fad of being slightly narcissistic and somewhat ineffective, the story travelled the world and millions of young women took part and did indeed raise awareness…and cash.
These days, it can be all too easy to blame social networking and the rise of technology for a lack of face-to-face social integration. However for as much as that can be believed, the opposite can be argued.
We are now at the forefront of a technological boom that has seen a rise in global communication. The ability to share knowledge and learn about a multitude of cultures is at our fingertips every day, and it is our choice as to how we utilise this incredible tool. Perhaps it is not social networking in itself to blame, but us as users for not embracing it with purer intentions. Maybe meaningful interaction does not just have to be face-to-face, but be echoed in our online personas as well.