Are We Creating a Socially Inept Generation?

Left out Are We Creating a Socially Inept Generation?


I’ve spent the last few months “cleaning up” my Facebook account, deleting about 100 people. Initially I was going to use my girlfriend’s approach and only keep people whose phone numbers I own, but I soon realized I have a few travel-related contacts  that I enjoy getting updates from.

I also realized I was connected to people I was never truly friends with (high school anyone?), who I’ve never once communicated with via Facebook, or who I’d rather connect with via LinkedIn for professional communication.

I sent personal messages to everyone I removed and included my email address and phone number as preferred ways to stay in touch. Surprisingly, when I told close friends and colleagues I was focusing my “social” energy elsewhere, the response I received was “Me too!” or “I’d love to quit Facebook, but I can’t.”

Don’t get me wrong. I think there’s great value in social networking . I personally love connecting with brands online.

The neat thing about Facebook is it allows you to stay in touch very easily with close friends and acquaintances, but it also keeps you close to people you might not be as connected to in real life.

I recently read a report by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, Washington D.C. that explored how the use of social networks relates to trust, tolerance and community engagement.

Findings | Facebook on an average day:

  • 15% of users update their own status
  • 22% comment on another post or status
  • 20% comment on another user’s photo
  • 26% “Like” other user’s content
  • 10% send a private message

Another interesting factoid is that frequent Facebook users tend to be more trusting of other people.

I suppose if you’re open to sharing your life online, you’re generally more trusting than the average yahoo. 

Also, the number of people using social networking sites has doubled since 2008. 

Does this mean we’re more socially connected?

I believe we are definitely more connected - I get most of my news updates via Facebook and Twitter  - but socially, I’m hesitant to agree.

Most of us have become so dependent on social updates that we can’t remember the last time we actually picked up the phone to catch up with a friend or sent a card… just because.

As I watch my 2.5 year old daughter navigate my iPhone without any issue, I worry that her generation may never learn how to live without technology nor learn proper social etiquette, like sending a hand-written thank you card or the importance of eye contact.

Are we creating a socially inept society? Is technology bringing us closer or pushing us further apart?

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