Social networks lack personal touch

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Isabelle Pinard
Managing Editor

Izzy Headshot

It’s possible in the 21st century to form instant links of communication constantly through cell phones and social networks like Facebook and Twitter, but a crucial element remains absent from all of these electronic connections — physical connection.

“I wonder how people got in touch before Facebook” a friend asked me over iChat and surprisingly I found myself unable to think of a response.

The answer seemed obvious because it wasn’t too long ago when my generation didn’t use Facebook and I was still able to chill with my friends, yet when thinking about that question, I wondered how communicating with my friends would be possible if I didn’t use Facebook nowadays.

Today people can invite and talk to a group of friends online just by clicking on an icon or sending a message, which is an efficient way of communication but it lacks the key aspect of talking to another person — the intellectual and emotional aspect.

Online social networks add in the varied smiley faces to get feelings across cyber space, but hearing someone laugh is much better than getting an “LOL” in a chat box.
It is ironic that teens’ use the phrase “get in touch” when talking about letting someone know through text or instant messaging because the dictionary expression means a situation or state in which people actually touch in an act of communicating with somebody – but times have changed.

The importance of texting and Facebook is to stay in contact with friends, but what users need to remember is that words on a phone or computer screen cannot replace real conversations with friends face-to-face.

Eighty-six percent of girl’s text message friends several times a day and fifty-nine percent text several times a day “Just to say hello,” according to Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project Survey.

Dependence on virtual communication is frightening and has gotten to the point where social interactions seem to rely on video chats or phone calls, which is good when reaching out to someone, but it doesn’t really fill a person emotionally, as would a hug from a friend.

The bonds I have with the people in my life are a result from the in-person experiences I have had with them. I still text them, Facebook them and video chat regularly, but it’s the moments when we get together that mean so much more than those the digital words on a screen.

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