Is Social Media Taking Away From the Real World?

I’m glued to my cell phone. I’ll admit it. But sometimes I wish I could just leave it at home. I feel like I miss so much when I’m talking on or staring at my phone. I find myself checking it every two minutes to convince myself that no one called/texted me since the last time I checked. It’s like an extra appendage.

But how much do we really miss because of our phones? There are people running into light posts and falling into manholes!

An article in The New York Times addresses the blinders affect that cell phones seem to have. Have you ever walked by something interesting only to have someone else tell you about it later? I hate that feeling of “I was there, how did I miss it?”

A study by Western Washington University found that only eight percent of people on their cell phones noticed a clown on a unicycle as they strolled near him. But 60 percent of people walking with a friend and 33 percent of people listening to music or walking alone were aware of the clown.

Are our lives literally passing us by as social media takes an even larger role? I think it’s time we took a step back from technology and focused on the real world. Who knows what we might see if we put our phones on silent or left them at home for a day.

Do you need your phone surgically removed from your hand? What are some ways you maintain face-to-face connections with friends and family?

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20 responses to “Is Social Media Taking Away From the Real World?

  1. Ann Schnoebelen

    It’s that sinking feeling in your stomach and that twitching feelings in your thumbs. You arrive at your destination and realize you’ve forgotten your cellphone. What if you miss a call? What if someone texts you and you’re not there to text them back? What if you have a question and can’t ask Cha Cha?!

    I’m definitely one of those people who goes nowhere without my cell. I think your post brings up a great point, Lindsay. In fact, it’s something my mom has lectured me about dozens of times. “Enjoy where you are at the moment!” she always says. Which I believe is a great point, and I think most would agree.

    Thankfully, I have successfully avoided manholes. So far.

  2. lindsaymiller89

    Have you ever walked or even driven somewhere (shame on you) while you were texting, only to find that once you reached your destination you can’t really remember what happened en route? I’ve started noticing that more and more when I’m texting on my way to class. I show up to the room and I don’t know who or what I saw on the way there.

  3. One time I was texting and walked straight into a huge pole in the mall parking lot. Not joking. There was a really loud banging sound and everyone stopped to look.

    Yes, cell phones do make you miss out on real life. For example, how did I not notice that I was going to run into a huge pole? Also, why didn’t the people I was with warn me? Oh, they were on their cell phones too. And now that cell phones have easy access to the Internet, things are only getting worse.

    Since that incident, I generally leave my phone in my purse on silent when I am anywhere with a group of people. There is nothing more rude than hanging out with someone and spending the entire time on your phone with someone else. I still like my phone to be there, but I try not to rely on it so much. I just like knowing it is there if I am ever in an emergency or anything like that.

  4. I have to admit I’m addicted to my phone as well. I check it constantly and always have it on.. even at night.. Sometimes I really do think that I don’t need it and I’ll leave it in my room for a few hours, but sure enough, when I come back I’ve missed a few texts and something important! Of course when I do have it with me all the time, there will be hours where nothing happens and I wouldn’t have needed it at all. I’m currently under the impression that I need an iPhone to keep up with technology and I think that will make my phone addiction worse. I have a blackjack, but it’s difficult to check facebook, email and twitter so mostly I just use it for texting and calling obviously, but iPhones are a whole new story. I really do think that I maintain even more communication with friends and family because I text and facebook all day. I don’t always have time for long conversations, but I can email my mom daily and joke with my stepmom on facebook. Same with my cousins that I don’t see that often; it’s much easier to chat with them via Facebook and I’m more likely to do it.

  5. By the way, that guy on a motorcycle was from India. I know it because I watched the video of that guy riding his bike in that position. I was like, what the heck is going on there? How could he even control his bike lying on his back like that?

    I wouldn’t say social media take away from the real world. I would say cell phone particularly does. I personally don’t have a problem with cellphones, and I’m not a social media addict so I am not so concerned about being taken away from the real world. I’m just really concerned about my friends. From a perspective of a person who doesn’t check text messages very often, I feel a little irritated when my friends do every ten seconds. I just can’t understand! Am I not good enough to talk to?

    • “Am I not good enough to talk to?”

      I HATE thinking this to myself while spending time with someone who is constantly texting someone else. If you need to talk to them that bad, leave and go hang out with them.

      This habit is something that I think our generation struggles with. It’s also something I know really annoys many members of older generations. We’ve talked a bit about our age group being seen as disrespectful by employers. Twitching our thumbs across qwerty keyboards during board meetings and conferences probably won’t help our case.

      • Yes! I agree with you – there are so many times I’m with people my age and I’m the only one that has my hands on the table rather than flitting across a cell phone keyboard. Since when is it more important to update your Twitter to tell people that you’re hanging out with @alyssegear than actually, I don’t know, hang out with me?

        I love the Internet and technology (almost) as much as the next person, but I hope in-person interaction doesn’t suffer too much. When I have kids, I hope to possibly talk to them face-to-face occasionally.
        Speaking of the future, when do you think our generation’s kids will get their first cell phones?

    • I definitely agree that texting multitasking is a problem.

      I am the type of person who is either listening to someone OR doing something else. I always tell people I can’t listen and text simultaneously and I don’t try to. If I have a really important message to send, I always apologize and say, “I really want to hear what you’re going to say. I just need to check in with my grandma (or whatever the situation is.) You know me, I can’t text and listen at the same time. I’m so sorry…” and complete the message as quickly as possible.

      While I always feel bad doing this, I don’t have a choice: I know I can’t do both at the same time, and it would hurt my feelings if I knew someone wasn’t listening to me, so I won’t do that to someone else.

      It’s interesting because the issue of texting during meetings came up at Student Senate a few weeks ago. Many senators said they felt it was necessary to use texting to communicate with other senators during the meeting. However, a few students said they thought it seemed rude and distracting. Personally, I don’t think I would text during a meeting because, like I said above, I simply can’t focus on two things at once.

      What do you think? Should cell phones be banned from meetings? When/where do you think it is appropriate to text or check your phone?

  6. I sleep with my phone on vibrate under my pillow–creepy I know. I convince myself it’s so I hear my alarm and make it to class on time, which is partially true, but I know deep down I do this because I don’t want to miss any texts or phone calls. You would think I would realize that nobody is going to text me at 3 a.m. and that my alarm clock will be enough to wake me–I am the lightest sleeper in the world. But no, I’ve been doing this for the past two years. My obsession with my cell phone is the worst bad habit. I would have to say that Facebook, combined with texting, have swallowed a significant portion of my downtime. This time could definitely be much better spent doing something productive…but no, I know this and nothing changes.

    • I always keep my phone on and beside my bed. I do have an alarm set on my phone just in case I don’t remember to turn on my actual alarm clock (in my defense, this has happened three times this year!) But really, there’s no reason for me to keep my phone on overnight. I just like knowing that if someone needs to send me an urgent message, they can.

  7. This reminds me of that awareness test:

    “It’s easy to miss something you’re not looking for.”

    • That video is great. I did happen to see the bear, but it was difficult to intently watch those passes and see the bear in the middle. This is a great way to show people just how easy it is to miss the light pole or the little kid on the bike as we drive and text.

    • The fact that I did not see the moonwalking bear is a very good reason I no longer text and drive.

    • I was so proud of myself when the video told me that I had counted the passes correctly, but when he asked if I’d seen the bear, I was like, “What?!” So funny. But also, a really good commercial that gets the point across.

  8. Mary Bess Bolling

    I’ve lost a succession of phones and, each time I’m without, I tend to appreciate life more. That sounds cornier than Iowa, but really. I notice more of the beauty of face-to-face conversations, going to somebody’s room to visit instead of sending a text and I even appreciate the falling leaves and chirping birds on my walks to class.

    Now I have an iPhone. And the only bird I pay attention to is my TweetDeck. And it’s impossible for me to disconnect. And I’m probably on the thing for over three hours a day.

    How many minutes would you estimate you spend on your phone each day?

    • I’ve got absolutely no clue how long I’m on my phone each day, but that would be a fun experiment.

      Well, it would be fun if by fun I mean enlightening and a bit disgusting. I only text and call people, but I’m sure that takes up far more of my time than I realize.

  9. lindsaymiller89

    Oh dear, I can’t even begin to count. With phone calls, I would say I average about 2.5 hours a day on my phone

  10. Fortunately, I don’t have an unlimited texting plan. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop me from going way over that plan each month (and owing my parents $80 more than I originally owed them).

    The amount of time we spend on our cell phones is ridiculous. I always tease my mom for turning off her cell phone when she gets home (her claim is that people can reach her on the house phone), which I think is a little extreme, but I wish I could do that every once and a while to get a break from all of the communication.

    I also leave my phone on at night (normally because I have it charging) but also so I don’t miss any important texts. My phone is like an extra appendage and when I forget it (which surprisingly, I sometimes do) I feel lost. Seriously. I don’t even have a phone with internet access, but am planning to get one in 2 months, which is going to change my already somewhat drastic usage to completely over the top.

    As far as social media being the culprit, I don’t think that’s the main problem. In 10 years, if Twitter and Facebook survive, I think it might become more of an issue (perhaps when everyone has a phone that can access the internet because it will be dirt cheap… cross those fingers). Right now, the cell phone still dominates.

  11. Yes. In some ways, anyway. After staying in contact with people through Facebook alone, it’s almost awkward when I actually see some of these people. In some cases it feels like a really low maintenance way of keeping in touch with people.

    I can go without Facebook or Twitter for awhile, but my cell phone’s a different story. My cell phone died (R.I.P.) four days ago, and the grieving process is far from being over. It’s killing me. I miss my friends. );

    Did anyone see the story on the news about banning cell phones while driving? I’m not sure how to feel about this one.

    I think it’s true that it could help prevent some serious accidents, but I know I’ve made calls at stoplights (on red, of course), and it’s been a big of a time-saver. Anyone have any thoughts on this…

  12. Pingback: The Best Web Design « Print Media Editing / Drake University

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