“Social media” is a misnomer

The word ‘social’ has its origin in the Latin ‘socius,’ meaning friend. In real human relationships fundamental messages travel back and forth behind the words. We listen for tone, nuance, watch body and facial expressions even as we choose our words. Feeling, touching, smelling each other emotionally — being our full selves — we  explore, expand, dissect, disagree, creating whatever comes next.

Facebook, Twitter and the rest are “about bits and bites,” a young adviser told me recently. It’s like going to a cocktail party, according to a New York social media expert at Toronto’s Book Summit last June. She’s both right and wrong.

We can share a laugh or a rant, say ‘look what I did,’ solicit sympathy from “Friends.” Instant gratification is ours when someone “Likes” what we’ve shared, or a friend sends us a little “Comment” boost. We like this very, very much. We do it everywhere, all the time. A couple sits in a restaurant, both of them staring at their cell phones. A father walks down the street, one hand holding that of his toddler, the other a cell phone raised to eye level. And we want “Followers.” So much so now that some people buy them. 

    Cruising the “social media” equals spending hours in a single-focused, out-of-touch-with-anyone-present space in which we are blind, deaf and oblivious to the subtle messages coming from those around us. Clues that emotionally crippled people put out can easily go unnoticed. Is it a coincidence that the number of unfathomably violent shootings across the globe parallels the growth of what might more aptly be called the “asocial media?” Or the “mirror media?”

    What do you think? Has too much online Soduko bent my mind, or is this something we need to address?

    Thanks for visiting,