I recently made one of the biggest mistakes of my life: I voluntarily chose to go see the movie “He’s Just Not That Into You.” Sitting through the agonizing two hours and nine minutes of the “chick-flickiest” film I have ever seen, I could feel the testosterone slowly leaking out of my body. Although the movie was mainly about relationships, friendship, love and all that other fluffy garbage, I found one particular scene very interesting and thought-provoking. This scene focused on this idea of how people have become dependent on countless social networks and technology to foster their relationships.
Facebook, MySpace, AIM and, most recently, the rising popularity of Skype are slowly taking over the human ability to interact on a personal level. Our relationships seem to lack substance; they are merely artificial.
If we want to check in to see how one of our friends is doing, we can simply log onto our Facebook account and post a comment on their wall. If we happen to see a hot girl in one of our lectures, all we have to do is get a name and ask our buddy “the Facebook stalker” to find out whether or not she is currently in a relationship. If we want to know if anyone happened to catch the final seconds of the Lakers game, we can simply check the meticulously updated status feed.
Now, I don’t want to sound like a hypocrite because I am just as guilty of committing these social crimes. The point is that we have a problem that is getting worse and worse with every new account created and every instant message sent. Unconsciously, we have become addicts, so immersed in cyberspace that it’s likely most people can’t even maintain a 30-second conversation with a stranger anymore.
Take, for instance, the campus shuttles at UC Irvine. Most of us have sat next to someone who we have never met before in our lives. Rather than taking that opportunity to get to know that individual, we choose to awkwardly sit next to them without saying one word. What is wrong with us? What if that person is your future husband or wife, or has the potential to become your new best friend? We will never know because we choose to be anti-social by avoiding interactions that don’t rely on technology.
The culture on campus is no different. The very same thing goes on in lecture halls, waiting in line to use the Bank of America ATM and on Ring Mall. Every day we are blessed to be surrounded by some of the most amazing people, but we choose not to socialize with them. At times, it seems the door greeters at Wal-Mart are more social than my peers; maybe it’s because they don’t have a Facebook account.
Social networks are a good way of keeping in touch with people that we don’t see very often and with whom we simply want to keep in contact. However, when it comes to the point where boyfriends and girlfriends are writing sweet nothings on each other’s walls, and high school buddies choose to playfully insult each other via AIM rather than getting together on a Friday night to see each other in person, we seriously need to reconsider who we are as social beings.
So, you all should take a minute to say “hello” to the person in the long lunch line behind you at Quiznos, or strike up a conversation with someone at the bus stop. Who knows, he or she just might be into you.
Ryon Tanara is a second-year biological sciences major. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.