11 Ways Social Media is Turning Us into Teens

Lisa writes: Facebook was developed by teenagers, for teenagers and I wonder if it, and its cousins Pinterest, Twitter, Reddit and Google+, are not turning us all into adolescents. Adults conduct their social interactions differently than teens and young adults but social media invites us to sound like our youthful selves. Social media is caught in time, in the student years, when most of us cared desperately about others’ opinions and were far less secure about ourselves.

With maturity we have less need to brag, and more need to deeply connect with others. Our ability to communicate has evolved and improved but the constructs we use in social media have not. Even as adults, we are using the tools of teens to communicate as we venture into social media, not always to the best effect. Here is the challenge to keep social media from turning us into teens:

1. On social media we clamour for the attention of those we barely know while, because of  its allure, we can overlook those seated at our own dinner table. The last time I ignored the people I lived with I was fifteen years old, the next time was when I got on Pinterest.
Facebook, twitter, social media ways of communicating
2. Teens like to complain, and parents learn to ignore it. Life isn’t always what we had hoped and accepting this is a defining characteristic of adulthood. Twitter is a complainer’s paradise full of first world problems and bragging, thinly veiled as complaints. 140 characters seems to be just the right number for whining.

3. Life is certainly not too short to type out entire words or phrases such as “never mind,” “talk to you later,” or even “awesome.” By midlife we know there will be enough time to type a word out in its entirety.

4. Adults value friendships for their depth and quality, but social media is all about quantity. Facebook is not the place for heartfelt conversations with three close friends, rather it is a place where we can delude ourselves into thinking we really have 3,728 friends.

5. True friendships, at any age, brim with good conversation focused on shared interests. Interchanges on Facebook and Twitter may be little more than a string of short, clever quips and sarcastic banter, with “Woo Hoo” and exclamation points thrown in for effect.

6. Social media promotes narcissism, or at the very least self-absorption. It beckons us to talk constantly about ourselves, showcasing our every move through photos to thousands of people who barely know us. The line between social interaction and bragging is constantly blurred.

7. Social media makes rude, not rude. Many teen boys become monosyllabic, grunting adolescents who, fortunately, outgrow this awkward stage. Social media allows us to think that one word answers are not rude and that the abbreviated vernacular of 13-year olds is acceptable.

8. Who would think that facial expressions with all their complexity and the range of human emotion which they convey can be replaced with small yellow faces tacked onto a message?

9. Social media means never having to be alone. Quiet solitude is something adults greatly value as a time for thought and reflection, but teens seem to constantly seek out social interactions and Facebook friends can always be found.

10. I was a Valley Girl and over the course of years I learned to stop saying “OMG,” “I can’t wait,” “so excited,” but when I got on Twitter, it all came rushing back to me. It was as if I could no longer speak like an adult if not given enough characters.

11. The average attention span may be shrinking across the generations but we are the adults, and by using the tools of our children, we hasten its demise. I am constantly tempted to text or Facebook message friends and family members instead of calling them. It is so quick and easy and it appeals to my sense of efficiency. But in doing so, I let go of that very human interaction that binds me to these people, and as an adult, I should know better.

Comments

  1. Totally agree with this! I think that social media has allowed for fewer friendships to grow and develop “organically,” through sharing real experiences together side by side. I think that those who use social media in place of those shared experiences are really missing out.

  2. My grown son and I were just talking about this yesterday. Social media is shrinking our world in more ways than one.

  3. Omgosh! I forgot to add: Thanks for “liking” my facebook. LOL!

    • Thanks for coming here. Is that a coffee maker on your site? Last time I saw something like that was junior high science.

  4. We have to fight the machine. Fight the “man.” We have to chill and put flowers in our hair. How’s that for adolescent?? What a funny look at social media – sometimes, oftentimes, so true. I see myself in a few of these and cringe. In other ways, I’ve fought it. Fought it like I’ve fought “the man.”

  5. Great post and agree with the concepts you have raised in it. There is a certain discipline and grounding one needs when approaching the use of a tool such as Facebook to make sure one “keeps it real”. It can also be a test of one’s self esteem if that grounding and marurity is not there.

    • Testing ones self esteem is not something that I thought of when I ventured into social media, but you are so right.

  6. Very interesting points. Social media really does have far-reaching effects on our lives, whether we are teenagers or not.

  7. This post has left me with a lot to think about.

  8. Really great points. I’ve heard of people who found out relatives were going through major life changes through Facebook instead in person or on the phone. Sometimes social media takes the social of human interaction.

    Happy Sharefest!

  9. You’ve made many very well thought out points. I hadn’t looked at social media from this angle before. It’s going to make me stop and think the next time I post or tweet. Having fun on the Saturday Sharefest.

  10. You make very good points. We definitely can easily fall into these teen like behaviors in social media.

  11. While I totally (in valley girl voice) agree, I think it’s ok. This time around, we may talk like teens, but we have the experience and maturity of the adults that we are (most of the time). :) Stopping by from #SITSShareFest

  12. This is so insightful! I never thought of it this way, but I do see that the type of engagement that social media provides does tap into our inner adolescents. Which is probably why some of us gravitate to it so much. We get to release in a way that was similar to a time when we didn’t have so much on our plates. So now it makes me wonder about those that I know who want no part of social media. What does this say about them? Interesting! I think I’ll share your post on FB for more discussion! Stopping by from #SITSSharefest

  13. Found myself nodding my head as I read along. The husband and I just had a conversation about this this week — I wonder what society will be like in 10 years…

    Stopping in from SITS Sharefest!

  14. I agree with most of the points but I actually like Facebook. It gives me an opportunity to keep up with family and friends who I wouldn’t normally be able to talk to. I also like texting. I keep in touch a lot more than I would without it. But I still have real relationships so I think, in the end, it’s all about balance. Social media has it’s place but it’s definitely not meant to replace real relationships or real conversations.

    Visiting from SITS.

    • You said it perfectly. May I agree with you?

      At the same time, texting is a fast easy way to communicate with my children when they’re busy.

      Facebook allows me to keep in touch with nieces, nephews, great nieces, great nephews, they’re friends etc.

  15. So many of these things make me crazy — like my 40-something-year old friends who constantly take and post pictures of themselves. Seriously?

    But I also love reconnecting with people I haven’t seen since high school (25 years ago). I’ve found that people are more open about themselves on facebook than they ever were in person. I get to know their hearts. I want to know their struggles. And the incredible support I see my friends give each other is amazing — which facebook let’s them do even though they are many states apart. As for all the annoying teenage behavior (from teens and non-teens), that’s what the hide feature is for. I just hide them from my news feed. I’m sure I annoy others as well and take no offense if they want to hide me.

    Fun post. Thanks for sharing. Happy Sharefest. I hope you have a lovely weekend.

    • Think you are so right. Love the reconnecting, not sure I need to see what everyone eats for dinner. Also 140 characters…simply not enough.

  16. You are so right, but I do also love many things about social media. It has helped me grow a successful home based business, connect with old friends, make new friends I would have met and keep up with friends and family who live far away. It’s all about moderation and keeping it real – online and offline. I think social media can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how people choose to use it or let it use them. Great post! (Found you through the SITS girls link up)

    • You are so right about all of the wonderful things social media has done. Not advocating getting rid of it, or even scaling back, we just need to sound and act like adults when using it. And we need to remember what truly connects us.

  17. Applause! We are fast becoming a society of disconnects. As if it weren’t bad enough already. Social Media was seated to “connect” us, but in the end it has done the complete opposite.

    • I don’t think it is either or, but so often we forget. I think I have spoken to someone when in reality I just have a series of texts and messages. New Year’s Resolution #1.

  18. i think something that the 20 & 30 something’s understand about Facebook and social media in general is that is about information not communication. it allows you to keep up with people you like but wouldn’t necessarily call or write to. it’s when it’s used as a form of communication that the problems seem to start. i am not on Facebook and never will be as I have watched my sisters do irreparable harm to their relationship on facebook-and it hasn’t been limited to the two of them. i look at Twitter from time to time but don’t really participate-the feed makes me dizzy. so i guess that means that i am not even in the slow lane on the information superhighway, i’m on the street under the overpass.

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  20. OMG (wink, wink!), number 6 is SO TRUE. This is a great post and definitely points out the craziness of social media!-The Dose Girls

  21. Interesting points…social media has replaced human interaction in a lot of ways. I do think it encourages us to be self absorbed…the kids post picture after picture of themselves, and I see adults doing that too. I guess it’s all what you want to make it. I enjoy the connections I make on social media, but at the same time, I don’t broadcast a ton of info about my personal life either.

  22. adult social networks says:

    To start with, interacting with someone face to encounter is incredibly unique than on text and on-line.

    Facial expressions, tone, body language, voice volume, swift contemplating, and
    eye get hold of all come into area when speaking to someone Face to
    Face. I feel they’re all incredibly essential when obtaining a conversation.

  23. I’m doing something I do see very often, commenting on an older post. Older in internet time. I think a month is about a decade on the internet.
    I enjoyed your post. Plenty to think about in it. I blog and still enjoy it most of the time. I love the feedback, trying to be creative and sharing. Those things I love about it are also the things that I notice missing if my post doesn’t seem to get read quickly. I like that you compared ignoring people to when you were 15.
    That’s the tricky part. Enjoy it but remember the real world of friends and family. I never got on twitter and still don’t think I will. FB is ok for seeing pics of family but I avoid going on it everyday. Pinterest – interesting and I enjoy the sharing but I don’t spend much time there. Most of my time is blog reading and blog post creating. We need to just say no to some social media. Remember that dumb anti-drug campaign?

    • What no edit feature on the comments?
      I meant to write “I don’t see very often”

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