I recently found this article, sharing a recent study which claims to show that social media may be making milennials "less social". In a specific finding, after asking 3,000 participants how they felt about social media in social settings, and found that the guiltiest culprits are often females. The study found 76 percent of females check social media platforms at least 10 times when out with friends, compared with 54 percent of males.
I use social media as a part of my service offering, so, perhaps, because I use it for others, I am not using it the way these people are. Perhaps I see it in a different light, but bear with me here.
Social media has helped me to become more sociable, especially at bigger events. I am a true unnatural networker. Since the age of 17, attending a weekly business networking event for my Father's business, I have had to overcome the introverted lifestyle I once led. I am good in small groups, sometimes even a little funny, and interactive, but put me into a room of my peers or business owners, & I start to freeze. This gets worse if I don't know them - exponentially worse. To the point where I am checking the coffee machine still has coffee, and going to the ladies to ensure I can calm the heck down.
Where am I going with this?
I now use social media to engage with people before events - especially the larger ones - that I am attending. I also do this for clients, so they can begin to get to know people who are coming, creating a more secure/social relationship with one another.
How this helps me in terms of socialising with others is that I already know some parts about them. Perhaps I noticed they were doing something the day before, which I can pick up on in conversation, and have a calmer chat about, without feeling I have to burst in with the "So what do you do" game-changer of conversations!
I also find that social media has helped me to remain social with my past and current friends. I moved to a new location within the last 3 years - we bought our first house, and unfortunately we were both brought up in areas where the average maisonette price is the same as the current 2 bedroom semi with large garden that we live in. This means we have both could have fallen out of touch with our friends.
My parents moved to Wales, over 3 hours away, my partner's friends are all over the country as well as one in Canada. Thanks to social media, we can continue to socialise.
Whatsapp, Skype, Facebook, Twitter and all the other social media goodies that we have, enable us to stay in touch. They help me to feel more calm and connect with people before I see them in person, and help me to build relationships for myself and my clients, so we can feel closer to them, without having to go out and potentially be a grumpy-face (especially when my journey would be over an hour!).
I do see, however, that some people are using the tools too much. Missing out on face-face conversations. Too many dates have I seen where the couple are both playing on their phones, probably saying what a great date they are having, without actually having a great chat. I think this is where the problem lies.
I say a few ideas here, for both personal and professional life.
1. Have some simple rules. For example, no mobiles during dinner, or no personal social networks during certain hours at work. Don't ban, but have in your employee handbook and as suggestions to your team, what is and isn't appropriate.
2. Have tech-free time! Bliss, I promise you. Sleep is actually much harder if you use a mobile device within 20 minutes of going to bed, so have your tech free time before bed so you can get to sleep easily. Also, go out with people and turn your phone onto DND. This means your settings can be mainly silent, but in settings allow certain numbers to call you like your parents and your partner.
3. Don't feel you have to post everything to social media. Engage with others who are sharing their stories. This will help you to build better relationships with them, and get conversational. Then host an offline gathering like a triple date, which I now have with a group of friends.
What do you think - do you think social media is preventing us from being sociable?