Wednesday, February 22, 2012

In a world of #hashtags

In a world where Facebook and Twitter rule our lives, it's sometimes hard to notice real stories even when they are right in front of our faces on our computer screens. Over the last few years, social media has changed the way we see our community, our friends, and ourselves. It has transformed the way we communicate and the way we keep in touch with everyone we know. But, in this world of social media, are we are beginning to lose touch of how we express ourselves?

Communication has turned from personal, face to face communication to email, texting, and Facebook, and Twitter. This that this is a bad thing... but, we need to consider the possibility that we lose some of our ability to express our feelings. Being limited to 140 characters or less might make a greater impact on how we communicate in "real life." When trying to express our feelings, do we think about how we feel or do we think about how it will come across on Facebook? When we want to express an opinion, do we spend more time thinking of a nifty hashtag rather than expressing how we actually feel?

While thumbing through Facebook recently, I began to think of how different our world would be if we didn’t have this kind of technology. I have heard so many people say that they would rather text than talk on the phone or they would rather write on someone’s Facebook wall instead of actually talking to them in person. I am guilty of this myself.

Are we simply scared of face to face communication?

Why is that? I think it's because we haven’t had the practice that past generations have had. When talking to someone in person, you don’t have time to think of your response. You cannot delete your thoughts mid sentence like you can when texting. We are forgetting how to communicate without preparation and approval by our minds.

This type of communication does have its perks though. We have the ability to think about our response before sending it. We have the opportunity to take time and breathe before making a situation worse. These are all great things.

But, what about the negatives? Personal communication has become a thing of the past. I know I get extremely nervous when talking to a professor face to face, but I have no problem shooting them an email. I can't image many people my age would disagree.

But here’s the kicker. You will not always have the opportunity to text or tweet or email someone. There comes a time when you have to put on a brave face and face reality that you need to be comfortable talking with someone. I personally believe that this is one of the biggest challenges our generation is facing.

Within our fraternal communities there is evidence left and right. Mass texts and emails have replaced personal responsibility to remember everything from chapter meetings to important events. Facebook groups have made it useless to stand up during chapter meeting and present the theme or ideas for the next social. Skype has ended the late night talks that use to take place in the common room. Chapter houses are completely different than how they use to be, which is extremely disheartening. The memories you are going to take away from this experience are the personal interactions you have with your brothers and sisters. So don’t get lost in your internet life at night, step out and have a deep conversation with someone.

Next time you are having a problem or need help try something new, pick up the phone and call someone or go see them in person. I’m sure it will make you feel a lot better and will be much more rewarding then sitting behind your computer screens or holding your cell phone.

Guest Blogger: Addison Ellis, AFLV Intern. Addison is a student at Colorado State University and is president of the CSU chapter of Alpha Tau Omega.

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