Digital Socializing: Can It Replace Live Interactions?
Present-day technologies and social media platforms have changed the way we stay in touch with people. Now, we can not only talk to the person but also see them and even collaborate virtually with the aid of VR tools.
Smartphones and the Internet have become an integral part of students’ lives. They’ve affected many spheres: from how to organize your college routine to how to normalize your sleep and decrease stress at work.
We are lucky to witness the time when the 24/7 accessibility of the person is no longer a futurist’s crazy projection but a reality.
Along with it, the introduction of tools for digital communication gave us greater freedom of choosing the place we can work or study from. But, at the same time, digital socializing caused a bunch of problems like cyberbullying and identity theft.
Will digital socializing conquer the communication arena in the long run? Or will our descendants still enjoy live interaction? Let’s play a guessing game in today’s post.
Here are a couple of points that should be highlighted:
- Pros and cons of digital communication and online platforms
- Online vs offline interaction: which one is better?
What Benefits Digital Socializing Has Brought Us?
No doubt, online communication is getting more and more popular, especially among teenagers. But what makes us shift our interaction to a digital environment?
The broad spectrum of online platforms provides us with many benefits that we can hardly imagine our lives without. Perhaps, the most evident ones are:
- Instant and uninterrupted connectivity via multichannel communication.
- Increased convenience of interaction with people at any time and at any place.
- Extended possibilities for remote study/work and unlimited opportunities for traveling as a result.
- Improved social engagement via social awareness and fundraising campaigns.
- Unlimited 24/7 access to on-demand training, workshops, and learning platforms.
- Gazillions of websites and online encyclopedias serve as a global source of knowledge and wisdom.
- More opportunities to make friends and share ideas globally. Not just within a particular country or region.
But there can’t be too much of a good thing and everything has its flip side. And digital socializing is no exception.
Dark Sides of Digital Networking
Technologies themselves don’t pose any problem. Even identity protection on social media can be easily managed. All you need is to be alert enough and take preventive measures. But there are plenty of different kinds of problems.
Due to the wide use of pseudonyms, the number of cyberbullying attacks and stalking has increased. Even though it’s pretty easy to identify the location of the online abuser and block their IP address, most platforms are still infested with trolls.
Mental health issues due to low self-esteem
Most young people link their looks to their self-worth that’s why they need approval from others. Those who don’t get this approval may later have body and appearance image concerns.
People get addicted easily to small rewards like likes or positive comments. Which, in turn, slowly tweaks their mind and switches focuses and priorities in life to the wrong things.
Online vs Offline Communication: Which One Wins the Race?
Offline interaction has dominated the communication space for a very long time and people got accustomed to it. When online communication had appeared, as any new thing, it swiftly absorbed the minds and time of youngsters. Young people often get free photo editing apps for Instagram, Facebook and for other social networking sites to try to get more exposure for their content. They are not really aware of privacy but only care for the reaction from the audience.
And they quickly started to lose the skill of interpersonal interactions like reading non-verbal cues. However, real face-to-face dialogs have many benefits like:
Discreetness and privacy of information shared
In our digital era cyberattacks are not big news. And at any time on social media or other online platforms, your private information can quickly become public. Those who were born and raised among the digital jungles learn to protect themselves from the dangers that lurk there. But the matter of fact is that you should always be aware of what you are doing online.
A computer screen is a perfect mask that can be used by anyone in the digital world. The person on the other side of it can be whoever or whatever they want. This can be used not only by outright criminals but by regular people as well. Fake avatars, fake names, fake stories, all of it can be spoofed easily. And even the keenest of eyes may not be able to tell the difference between a genuine person and an online persona.
You never know whether you are treated as a personality or as another John Doe. Real conversations help you determine how another person feels about you. The lack of non-verbal communication online can lead to all sorts of problems and conflicts. And even though online culture teaches us to get used to the lack of this essential component, it will be quite some time until humanity gets used to it.
People are social and political animals, and we need physical contact to feel that we are a part of something. That we are good enough to receive support and encouragement from other members of society.
The above-mentioned advantages will remain the privileges of solely offline communication in the future. But, now, there is no absolute winner between digital and non-digital interaction. Both have their pros and cons.
Although it might be looking that way, it’s highly unlikely that humanity will completely move to online communication. Some amount of physical interaction is bound to stay within our lives at least for the foreseeable future. And the COVID-19 pandemic has proven this concept.
People miss real-life conversations and digital chatting can’t substitute hugging and kissing of a loving person. Despite its advantages, online interaction is just another benefit that technology brought us. And it should be used wisely.