Social networks are slowly replacing social lives. We mean, real social lives, settings where people can look at each other in the eye, can deeply connect, can understand body language and communicate through words rather than pictures and online statuses. Society is rapidly changing and the first ones who are somewhat affected by that are teens.
Most of teenagers don’t consider meeting strangers online taboo, as 6 in 10 declare they have met at least one new friend on the internet. They are rather inclined to text and communicate through emoji, emoticons, songs, online games and social networks more frequently compared to the amount of time they spend together in their real, physical lives. According to a new study, one third of those who meet people online, follow-up with an in person meeting.
Change is most of the times welcomed but isn’t it that the virtual space creates barriers, strengthens anxiety, as we cannot really feel and see the person we are talking to and disconnects us from real, heartfelt emotions?
A team of experts from Pew Research Center embarked on a mission aimed at making us understand the way online interactions are shaping the social lives and identities of American teens. The study found that the line between virtual and real worlds becomes almost invisible. Kids declare that they have extremely deep and meaningful relationships with people both online and in person. Well, considering that online we are personas, rather than persons, it sounds a bit peculiar. Intimacy is about immediate contact, feelings and energies that mingle when people can touch, see and feel for real what the other is all about.
Developing an online friendship could be much easier than actually taking the time and space to meet someone and understand them. Our contemporary generation of digital kids hit their teen years just as the iPhone and Facebook have taken over the territories of popularity. From a social and psychological standpoint the implications are yet unknown but some experts warn that the intensity of online interactions comes with new pressures for teens and their parents.
The only thing we know about the new way of making friends is that the social life of teenagers has moved online. This new paradigm puts pressure on the image, as the image is the only perceivable, visible and moldable in the social space. Attitude and personality all arise based on the looks. Looks are shallow so how exactly will be the new world we are slowly entering?
Image Source: gardendalegoodshepherd.org