Does Social Media Encourage You to Be Anti-Social?

by Cam

social mediaA question posed to me recently was whether or not participating in social media networks has an affect on you becoming more or less social. Does social media hurt your “real social life”? An interesting topic to consider, I shared my thoughts as a source for Conversations about socialization – How social networking online translates offline by Emily Clark, posted on CJconnect.ca.

This question intrigued me. As a source, my perspective was direct and straight to the point. However with a question like this, there is always more to my answer than what could be written about in someone else’s piece. So that is what I will do now.

In short, my answer was no. I do not believe social media encourages you to become more anti-social. Even if by the vary nature of the phrase “social media”, where the phrase itself contains the word “social”. So for the opposite argument to be true, it would have to be based on an assumption that socializing online is different than in person face-to-face real life interaction. Here the argument moves toward a definition of the word: social. My definition is whenever interaction occurs. (And this is why I believe every aspect of your entire life is, in fact, social – you interact with everything around you. Being social is not a choice we have.)

The original assumption challenges the idea that relationships formed online are real and authentic. I believe if a relationship isn’t real and lacks authenticity, it is not a fault of the platform, but the individual(s). I believe people should always strive for authenticity in all of their interactions. And at Kingpin Social, this is our aim. This is the direction we push our students to pursue. I also believe who you are is who you are, and that will come across both online and offline. If you are anti-social in real life you will likely be anti-social online. If you have a glowing personality the same will also be true. To add on further, people who hold out on participating in social media networks are viewed as weirdly unsocial.

Where Online Interaction Wins

As a young teenager I spent a great deal of time online playing video games and exploring the wide ranges of the Internet. This led me to interact with many interesting individuals, and through commonalities I discovered a passion for digital art. The amount of time I spent playing video games quickly dwindled as the majority of my time was now being spent on deviantART, an online community of artists uploading their work, browsing other artists’ portfolios, giving each other feedback, encouragement, and even at times tough love. This community didn’t merely focus on art though; it was a community in all of its best forms as well. The community had groups to find a mentor – a big brother of sorts. It also had a group run by a great friend of mine named Amy (or dualdesigns online) called Circle of Friends, where the members “will readily offer any type of support, and friendship to people on deviantART that are having problems and might need to talk to someone.”

Whatever your passions may be, a quick search online will yield you with countless communities you can join to find advice and further your craft or simply to find other like-minded people. Many of my current best “real life” friends I met through these types of communities. I can’t say with any certainty whether I would have found these groups if they weren’t online. Regardless of your preference to spend time online or offline, the key is authenticity. If you aren’t being real, genuine and authentic in all of your social interactions – online and offline – you aren’t going to be able to capitalize on the opportunities both present. Both are great for all types of social interaction, and neither make you more or less social/anti social.

About Cam
Cam Adair is a Motivational Speaker who dares you to live a life you're proud of. Watch his TEDx talks on Escaping Video Game Addiction and The Surprising Truth About Rejection. Follow him on Instagram. He is the Founder of Game Quitters, a support community for those who struggle with a gaming problem.

Follow me on Twitter ·

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Angelo August 21, 2012 at 10:09 am

Awesome article! Social media has really made a huge impact on our culture. Personally I’ve wrestled with the balance of being effective with Social Media. I’ve made a personal rule of making sure that I’m productive whenever I’m on. If I can’t recall what I was doing within the hour of being on Facebook and who I messaged or interacted with, then I was either mindlessly lurking or just bored and finding things to fill the time. And I agree, it is a great way to reach individuals who have the same interest.

However, from personal experience and observation, I learned that the persona people tend to have online is different from what they have online. This could be for various reasons. They might just not have had enough time socializing person to person or their way of communicating online has evolved. Still, it’s amazing to see how some people act behind the safety of a computer screen. The freedom to hide behind a profile and the time given to communicate encourages people to be more open. This can either be a good thing or a bad thing. I’ve seen individuals express themselves and share painful experiences as means of catharsis and receive instant positive support and feedback. On the other hand I’ve seen individuals say heinous things towards each other and argue over things they wouldn’t think as worth it in person. Personally, when it comes to developing relationships, I think it should always point towards meeting individuals in person.

Damian August 22, 2012 at 2:33 am

I am against social networks. Simply because I believe and prefer that face to face interaction is more healthy and rewarding. My opinion only. Also a bit off topic but still havent we become a bit too depended on the internet and computes ?
Im not saying they are bad but as in everything humans must find balance of usage.

Cam August 25, 2012 at 4:19 pm

Hey Damian. I definitely think face-to-face interaction is more important no doubt. Balance is definitely key. I think social networks are just another tool we can use to avoid having to actually live life to the fullest. It’s easier to stay at home in front of a computer screen than it is to go out and make life happen! Thanks for commenting.

@ Angelo, I definitely think it’s fair to say people can act differently online then in person… but I have to wonder if that’s because people can affect their true personality or if it’s merely a cause of anxiety and other obstacles that hold them back from being able to express themselves effectively. I believe your personality is going to shine whether it’s in person or online… but that doesn’t mean you are always capable of expressing yourself fully. Online definitely helps eliminate such barriers.

jonesy September 3, 2012 at 7:25 am

I recently lost my phone, and with it,access to facebook, twitter, etc along with the usual text & calls. It was roughly one week before i could replace it. Aside from managing logistics for meeting buddies & keeping appointments, i didn’t miss ANYTHING in the cyber world. Needless to say, i had a prettt full inbox afterwards, but it was mostly all crap!!

Typed up and sent via my samngsung smartphone!! The irony is delicious

I actually found i enjoyed the “freedom”, and interestigly enough, the interactions i had during the week seemed alot more “authentic” as described above. Strange phenomenon (“,)

jonesy September 3, 2012 at 7:58 am

To add to my previous post, i think there was a certain richness in my approach to the interactions because i had invested my real life time & energy into the interactions, as opposed to we’ll say, clicking open a chat box and mindlessly typing a bunch of nothingness.

Cam September 3, 2012 at 2:45 pm

Hey Jonesy. Thanks for commenting! I also experienced something similar to this in May when I went on a 7 day raw food detox retreat. I didn’t have access to a cellphone or internet for 7 days, and didn’t miss ANYTHING important at all. Of all the e-mails and text messages I got, zero were important (needing an immediately response.) It was enlightening to experience this. Since then I’ve actually lowered my time on these sites significantly. In fact, one of my favorite times of the day now are when I turn my phone off and don’t have it sitting right in front of me.

I completely agree with what you’ve said about the richness real life interactions have. Hope you have a great day!

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: