Is social media crippling our face to face socialising skills?
I love how it helps me socialise, do business and, I can keep in touch with friends, family and clients.
However, what is it doing to our face to face social skills?
Having written my first book, I have decided that I want to immerse myself once again into this topic of socialising.
I meet people on a regular basis who are very different when socialising online and face to face.
So what is it that creates this disparity in the ability to socialising within different contexts?
I think it’s a combination of many factors, and I have collated research data to back up my opinions and observations.
Why have I done that? Because I know this topic has the potential of getting backs up if people are reading it and taking it personally.
I have had the odd rant sent to me, where things are taken personally. Glad to have been of service, they got it off their chests and that’s important.
So let’s take a look at what’s going on with socialising.
The difference between social media and face to face socialising has been studied by many psychologists overs the years.
A study carried out by Sanfey et al (2003) analysed the brain processes behind recipients’ responses to unfair offers.
It was found that unfair offers made face to face were rejected at a significantly higher rate than offers made by a human via a computer.
This suggests that participants had a stronger emotional reaction to unfair offers from humans (face to face), than unfair offers via social media.
Neuro-imaging results showed a magnitude of activation in regions of the brain that are known to be involved in negative emotional states.
Pain and distress was significantly greater for unfair offers made face to face. Source
What does it all mean?
Research shows that there is less of an emotional buy-in when talking to people from behind a screen.
This could explain some of the things that are said and shared on social media.
I do have to add from experience, that as human beings, when we are reading from a screen, how it comes across is relative.
How we interpret online communications depends on many factors; how your day has been, how you are feeling that day (upbeat or rubbish) etc.
Other research has found those with higher tendency to socialise online, can become nervous or inapt at socialising face to face.
It has also been proven that face to face socialising has better impact and is still the best way to communicate if you are in business.
The telegraph reported that 1 in 4 of us socialises more online than face to face.
The average Brit spends 4.6 hours per week socialising on social media compared to just 6 hours spent socialising face to face.
That’s quite a staggering statistic in my opinion.
What do we learn from this research?
These statistics explain why so many adults claim they are lonely. We as human beings actually need to interact face to face.
We need the social contact that comes from going out and meeting your mates; yet fewer people are actually getting it. Source
A study carried out on teens aged 13 to 17 found that the majority of their interactions were online via social media.
When they explored whether high use of social media affected their ability to socialise face to face…
This is what the psychologist Carothers found:
“… frequent virtual interactions through social media lack emotion… when coming face-to-face with a person, frequent users of social media may miss some social cues… quality of [the] relationships may not be as great as those that are based in face-to-face socialising.”
A problem that arises from this is that youths may become “confused (about) what an actual friendship is,”
This report points out some positives to online socialising. Social media breaks down cultural barriers and enables keeping in touch frequently with friends and family abroad. Source
Increasingly, people at social events have their eyes glued to a smart phone screen, or are using their device to film everything that’s going on.
This behaviour means that they are not present in the moment, not socialising and miss the true experience.
It seems it is more important to publicise everything they do on social media, to look as if they are enjoying themselves.
But, are they really enjoying themselves?
This type of behaviour is not exclusive to young people, it includes a large percentage of adults.
Could the skill of ‘real’ face to face socialising be fading out? I certainly hope not.
Although, it is noted in many research documents, that people find face to face socialising difficult, and some do not have the skills required to confidently socialise face to face.
If you feel that way or just want to keep face to face socialising alive, read my guide to savvy socialising. Start mingling the non-techy way.