in Education

“Those connections on your computer aren’t real…” and other falsehoods

I may or may not have heard a speaker recently cite the rampant use of digital devices by millennials. In this discussion, said speaker might have referenced Facebook and other tools by saying, “I have a hard time convincing kids that those people on those sites aren’t real. Even if they’re your friends or whoever else. Those connections aren’t real. You can’t make real connections that way.” This marred an otherwise spirited discussion (that again, may or may not have happened) that was not about social media at all.

I suppose this is a common mistake people make. It doesn’t take a Luddite to believe that social media is all about little e-people who don’t have real narratives, tell real stories and communicate real thoughts. Does it mean people don’t get confused in texts sometime? Sure. But how many times have you misunderstood something a person told you in real time? For me, that happens pretty often even if it’s someone I speak with and see very often or consider very close to me.

If you subscribe to this blog, you’re already a kind of true believer and I don’t need to convince you. I write this instead to illustrate the kind of thinking g that’s still pervasive amongst Boomers and other anecdotal culture experts who see first-hand what happens in the social media purview of their own world and want to extrapolate messages from that. Make no mistake, I recognize there are inherent problems with digital addiction and our first-world societal over-reliance on technology to do things we used to do manually.

But let’s trivialize real, meaningful connections that happen online as silly simply because we don’t understand it. And if you hear someone else being dismissive, speak up. We might know better, but I learn everyday that lots of other people are far behind the awareness of the things happening each and every day.