I’m so glad that after years of debating girls are better than boys in primary school, we grew up into proper adults who can debate on other interesting things such as the topic above. I know I should be telling you how this meeting went but I will ask you a question that I hope will guide you through as you read this piece. What do you think of social media? Has it affected how you communicate? Well like many grown-up debates, we agree to disagree. The one thing I will agree on here is that valid points were raised and our moderator Jason Gikonyo did an excellent job to make sure of that.
We started the debate with a crucial area, has social media improved communication in our relationship and I mean all ships including friendships and romantic relationships. Well, some argued that in fact, social media has made communication in relationships worse considering even people who lived before social media complained of lack of proper communication as the main factor in the lack of success in relationships. They argued that it has destroyed communication and the face to face interaction. Everyone is on their socials even when you are trying to have a conversation. Imagining sitting next to your partner in a restaurant and instead of complimenting you they are liking and commenting on a picture just posted! Weird, right!
Other factions further argued that social media had destroyed the value of non-verbal communication which has been brought about by technological advancements such as emojis (which are a great invention by the way). Some members regarded this as non-verbal communication and regarded their use as genuine as a smile or a wave from the other party.
On another front, other members were categorical that no meaningful conversations are ever had on social media as everyone is just trying to show off how well they are doing. A counterargument was offered that it the responsibility of every individual to have the meaningful conversations they want on their socials.
Social media was also argued to be very instrumental in connecting people from various backgrounds, countries, and people from different times in our lives, like our high school friends and classmates. It might not be as often but the fact remains that we can communicate to them every once in a while, thanks to social media, and even though people born before social media might argue that this is not efficient and effective communication and should not be taken seriously.
Others would argue that; that one letter to meet at Wimpy’s in the previous generation before social media was taken so seriously because that was the only communication they would receive until they would meet.
A lot of friendships have been made and destroyed by social media. You see just like anything else social media has the good, bad and ugly side of it. For a lot of people, friendships are when they are together. This can however be challenged because most of our lives do not happen when we are together, especially in this fast-moving world a lot can happen when we are not together with our friends. Social media has therefore allowed friends to constantly communicate even if they are worlds apart. The world is constantly changing and we will not always be with our friends. We must embrace this change and while doing it, remain true to ourselves in communicating honestly through this platform.
The next million-dollar question was whether social media has improved our social skills.
Before I let you know how this went, I would like to give you examples of social skills they include but are not limited to; effective communication, conflict resolution, active listening, relationship management, and respect. If you take a look at all these skills, they all so important and yet so personal. What I would for example consider as effective communication is not what the next person would consider as effective communication. Others will prefer to communicate in a certain way while others in another way and we cannot judge others by how they choose to communicate because the end goal is to pass across a message and for it to be understood.
Others argued that we have become so busy on our social media that we fail to see people who need our help. This, if you ask me, is a lack of humanity and it has nothing to do with being on social media because have you see social media in December, everyone wants to be seen on social media as practicing humanity on their social media pages. So, no I don’t think our humanity or lack thereof of humanity has anything to do with us being on social media it has everything to do with our values and who we are as humans.
This next question a lot of us have had a different encounter with: professional communication and what it should look like.
A lot of people agree that emails used to be and can still, to a huge extent, be considered as the professional way of communication but the tides of these areas are continually changing. A lot of professional communication can nowadays be said to be dependent on for example even the audience. Not all professionals would like and are easily accessible via email. All this, again, is dependent on an individual or a specific organization.
To end the meeting Jason asked how social impacted written communication skills especially in terms of grammar and I am happy to report that for this one we were all ad idem that, grammar police have greatly shaped and ensured that our grammar has remained in check. A majority agreed to be very cautious and particular on social media.
Until the next debate, thank you for reading.
Written by Susan Maina
Secretariat, Rotaract Club of Nairobi Central.