Social Media: A Digital Subtext in Every Conversation

Source: Facebook.com

Last weekend, as I was browsing the aisles of my local grocery store, I overheard a conversation between two women who had coincidentally bumped into each other. Since I was in the middle of a conundrum of whether low-sodium or organic ketchup would be best for me I happened to overhear most of their conversation. These two women gossiped as if their tongues would dry up and wither away if they didn’t keep flapping. From the fashion-disaster that a mutual friend was caught wearing to a dinner party to the nasty divorce that another friend was going through.

As I half-heartily continued to listen to their half-interesting conversation (clearly having nothing better to do with my time), I began to pick up on a conversational trend. All the information they were discussing was coming from one source: Facebook. The fashion nightmare: those were tagged pictures that appeared on a news feed. That nasty divorce: Susie Q (or whoever) went from being “Married” to “Single.” Every subject they breached had its roots in social media, and as I snapped out of my voyeuristic coma, I was left with one impression: Facebook has changed human interaction forever.

“Wait. She posted what to your wall?”

“Are you serious? He unfriended you because of that?”

“I’m going to check-us-in here, is that okay?”

Digital communication and social media have assuredly changed how we communicate. The pressure to be social has never been so high, and face-to-face interaction is no longer enough for us. Upon meeting someone socially, a Facebook “friend request” has become standard, and not abiding by this (and other digital-standards) can lead to various social ramifications. I’ve had friends become upset with me because I did not “like” certain pictures they posted or I forgot to post to their wall on their birthday. I’ve seen friendships start and stop on my news-feed, and I’ve often been out to dinner with friends where there is a moment when we are all sitting in silence, staring down at our iPhones.

Source: weknowmemes.com

No matter whether you feel this necessity for digital communication through social media is constructive or not, denying its existence will not make it go away. Face-to-face communication will be forever laced with a digital subtext, and just like those two women in the grocery store, if you are not connected through social media, you may find yourself with nothing else to say.