The Blackberry seems vital for hectic lifestyles, providing individuals with constant access to emails, the internet and use of a ‘hellophone’ anywhere in the world as long as they have the required connection.
Yet people are getting sucked into a world of their own, creating their very own bubble where real flesh-and-blood contact is no longer required.
Have you noticed groups of people in restaurants, bars and other social venues with their heads down tapping away? Or walking down the street and miraculously missing lamp posts, people and bins.
Have you been lucky enough to experience that not so rude but more ‘acceptable’ interruption mid conversation so one can ‘ping’, ‘tweet’ or post a status update.
There’s no escaping social media. PR practitioners and journalists are foremost amongst those who now make use of the internet and web-based technologies which have allowed broadcast monologues to be transformed into social media dialogues.
Social media does have its advantages. We’re all connected – and most of this information is free. We feel a sense of community from being connected.
For organisations, social media is a great tool especially if budgets are tight. The tools are free and can generate business not just on a local scale but globally.
Yet there’s another perspective on communications and technology.
It’s about community, not technology
Designer Kevin McCloud has been experiencing what community really means in a Channel 4 documentary called Slumming it: Kevin McCloud. Shockingly the city of Dharavi within Mumbai is built upon rubbish with streams of toxins and sewage. It appears to be a living hell. Yet Dharavi does have something that the Western world is losing and it’s this: a true sense of community.
Despite the poverty, people seem happy. They have their family life, everyone shares, people come together and people of all ages will sit with each other and communicate. One can only imagine that word spreads quickly across such a close-knit community.
We must question whether this has gone too far? Those in public relations and journalism experience increased workloads without a corresponding pay rise.
According to a National Union of Journalists survey, 25% of journalists have found that with new media their working patterns have changed, 37% of respondents saying that they now worked longer hours. A whopping 75% of respondents to the survey felt that social media had increased the workload for some if not all staff.
It’s hard not to think journalists are being exploited, especially in times of economic downturn. Social media is the perfect way for companies to get as much as they can out of employees no matter what it’s doing to people’s health and happiness.
Social media is time-consuming and needs to be tackled as a full-time occupation. Here’s the job spec:
Social media dynamo
Requirements: Commitment, dedication, resilience to boredom. The ability to write; the ability to resist the distractions of irrelevant information.
This is a full time position and requires creativity. Along with excellent tea-making skills.
Blackberries may be a good thing, but our ‘Crackberry’ addiction is not healthy.
It’s now possible to use your phones on business class flights. It must be a matter of life or death then if one can’t even have a journey free of calls, emails and texts. People are even at it on holiday, anti-social though this is.
There’s no longer any separation between work and home life.
Stuart Gold, a marketing director who receives up to 1,000 emails a day on his BlackBerry, was quoted in The Daily Mail saying: “My entire life is in my Blackberry – my family life, my professional life, my emotional life, everything. They’re not allowed to do this to me.”
Sites such as Facebook and Twitter are growing fast, but so what if you’ve got 800 friends or 900 followers? What do these people mean? It’s fair to say in most cases friends and followers are merely numbers and that’s as far as they go.
So are we losing the art communication? It’s all very well communicating with our trendy Blackberrys and being connected to the world 24/7 but when does it stop? And are we creating our own little bubbles with people glued to their iPhones and Blackberrys?
Now this just isn’t social at all.
Photo credit: Cocoarmani (via Flickr)