Look Me in the Face

By Remaliah Jackson.

Social media is the absence of socialization. Over time, our society has become extremely addicted to connecting with a screen rather than other people. As social media advances, our social skills decline. For example, eye contact has been replaced with digital contact. The average American makes eye contact 30% to 60% of the time; however, according to research Americans should be making eye contact 60% to 70% of the time in order to maintain a meaningful conversation. MSU Extension Educator Jodi Schulz states that eye contact shows attentiveness and interest in what is being said.”

Today, many try to multitask by just taking a few glances at their phones while in a conversation. However, glancing at your phone while in a conversation is not multitasking, it’s a distraction. Digital screens have people more engaged in what is happening through social media than what is happening in the present discussion. Even though we only mean to take a few glances, a majority of our time goes into our phones. Eyes down, attention goes elsewhere. Lack of eye contact during a conversation due to a digital screen shows the absence of listening and respect for the speaker.

Yes, conversation happens constantly through social media, but there is a difference between an avatar and a human. Online, it becomes easy to develop fake connections between two people because online, no one can visibly see or hear your intentions. Face to face contact allows raw emotions to be shown because our eyes tell our thoughts and feelings. Eye contact is one of the strongest sources of nonverbal communication. Within a conversation, real emotions can be detected through the reaction of the eyes.

It becomes easy to look at your phone rather than another person because one may feel as if the “hype’ on social media is more interesting than what the other person is trying to communicate. However, this is all due to a social disease called FOMO – the fear of missing out. This term was invented by Patrick J. McGinnis, a Harvard MBA. As inhabitants of this society, we fear that we are missing out on interesting events or hangouts that are happening elsewhere, so we check our social media to stay updated. Therefore, we are more engaged in what is happening elsewhere than in the conversations happening right in front of us.

So many people miss out on the opportunity to engage in an interesting conversation because they feel as if they will miss out if their phone is not in their hand. However, social media is the cause of missing out on what is in front of us. The advance of social media has caused many to develop their contact with social media and decrease eye contact. When one decides to choose social media over reality, they neglect the opportunity to engage in a purposeful conversation.

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