As a 16 year old girl, I have never lived in a world without social media. Although I do love my Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Yik Yak, Snapchat, Tumblr, and I could go on, it is the reason why my generation does not know how to talk. I mean, yes, we do talk, a lot actually, but I mean, really talk. WE. DON’T. HAVE. SOCIAL SKILLS. I’ll define social skills as this: being able to have intelligent (sometimes) conversations with one another, face-to-face, not behind a 4.7-inch display screen.
We, as in my generation, can talk a lot of crap and confess a lot of love behind a keyboard. How many of these conversations do you think would be done face-to-face? Almost none. I’m not going to lie, I do it, too. Who doesn’t? Given, I got my first desktop when I was 10, my first cell phone when I was 12, my first laptop when I was 14. Social Media was pushed upon us. It was new. It was cool. It was easy. And it still is. The average teenager spends 7.5 hours of his or her day on his or her cell phone, computer, or other electronic device accessing social media. And we didn’t (and still don’t) know any better. We didn’t have to learn how to use social media like the rest of you. We grew up with social media. We were growing as Facebook was growing. I watched Twitter turn into a phenomenon within weeks of it being downloaded onto my phone. I watched as Instagram went from pointless to the most popular app on the app store.
My generation is known as “Generation Y,” or the “Social Media Generation,” and unfortunately, just because of the generation we were born in, we already have a negative connotation towards us. We are obsessed with Social Media and we are obsessed with technology. It has its perks, but it definitely has its down falls. Employers tend to think that we aren’t work oriented, or that we’re distracted easily, but we also have an electronic edge to us that gives us an advantage. We know the field, we know how to reach younger audiences and we know our way around a computer, or just about any electronic device.
Social Media is my life and that is great, but somewhat unfortunate. Because when we get older and have “big kid” jobs, we won’t know what to say. We won’t know how to act. We won’t have social skills. I won’t just blame it on us, I guess. Even adults are doing it now. “E-Harmony,” “Catholic Singles,” “Match.com,” people are now too afraid to go talk to other people, so they have to do it through the internet! Social Media is a great thing, don’t get me wrong, but when my grandparents, my parents, my aunts and uncles were young, they had no such thing! But, now, it consumes us.
Everyone, including you adults reading this right now who don’t think this applies to you, need to UN-PLUG! I’m not talking about sitting your phone down for 20 minutes, I’m talking about instead of sending that text or that tweet, give someone a call, meet them for lunch, anything! I’m pleading with you to do something that is very unlikely, almost impossible. No one is going to do that, why call and talk to someone or have a face-to-face conversation when you can text someone the same thing. Doing so, avoiding all possibilities of confrontation, of awkwardness. Isn’t that really the root of the problem? We don’t want to talk to people. We’re too afraid. Once again, my generation is lacking social skills. Something that is becoming less and less necessary due to technology and social media.
Although this is happening, although social skills are becoming less needed, I can’t help but think that we still need them. I want them, but I need social media. I can’t live without it. A lot of people don’t understand why, nor do I really. All I know is that I can’t go 10 minutes without checking my phone and 15 minutes without checking all my social media feeds. It’s addictive. It’s part of who I am. My generation was doomed from the beginning because once you have a little bit of technology, all you want is more. All I want is more.
I do pride myself somewhat with having more social skills than others, but compared to the adults I work with, live with, and am around every day, I have basically none. In public, I question everything I say, everything I do, and sometimes I just say nothing because I grew up with a tool that allowed me to do these things behind a keyboard and a screen. Is that good? No. Is that reality? Yes.
Finally, coming back to my original point. Maybe since it is the beginning of a new year, you will sit your phones down for a while. You’ll sit down and have dinner, play board games, have intelligent conversations face-to-face with your family. Maybe we’ll all do this as a “resolution.” So, maybe we do have some social skills, but only when it’s “that time of the year.” Isn’t that sad? We only want to talk to each other when something is expected out of us. We were expected to during the holidays and now we’re expected to for a resolution. We, not just teenagers, everyone, need to have these skills year round.
This year, we all need to go back to the roots, of something that us teenagers don’t really know a lot about, and talk. Talk about everything, talk about nothing. Just talk. And maybe, the generation of social media won’t turn out so bad after all.
By: Harley Crawshaw | @harley_crawshaw