Poll: Is social media ruining or improving your life?

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Back when I was growing up, if you wanted to know what was happening in the world, you had to wait until the newspaper carrier threw the paper at your front door.  Or you had to wait until 5pm for the evening news, when you put tin foil on the rabbit ears to get the best possible signal on the old black and white.  When you wrote a research paper, you had to thumb through the card catalog to find the book you needed.  And if you wanted to talk to someone, you picked up the phone and spun the numbers on the rotary dial.  Or maybe you wrote a letter for the mail carrier to pick up.

Sometimes I miss those days.

The internet is great, don’t get me wrong.  It’s amazing the amount of information available at our fingertips.  We can learn the news seconds after something happens.  We can use the search bar to get information on any topic.  We can text conversations to our friends and not actually have to hear their voice.  Smart phones have made our world so much bigger and more interactive, but I sometimes wonder if it’s truly made it better.
I bring this up because of Kobe Bryant.  During the Lakers playoff game Sunday, Bryant sat on the bench (he tore his Achilles, just had surgery and is out the rest of the season) and tweeted the whole game.  The announcers talked about his tweets during the game.  He is getting a lot of criticism for not being into the game like people think he should have, even though he wasn’t playing.

While I admit it’s pretty cool to get perspective of star athletes during games, I also wonder if it takes us away from the experience of the game as well.  Instead of watching it unfold in front of us, we’re “talking” with other like-minded fans during the game, spending so much time reading tweets that we end up missing the action.  The look of the modern day sports fan is changing.  We used to just sit on the couch and watch the games but now we’re using facebook, Twitter and other social media platform to express our opinions about what we’re watching.  In a society where many voices get drowned out by the masses, it’s nice to have an outlet.  But does it distract you from being a fan?  Is it unhealthy?

Take the Boston marathon bombing story.  On Friday, you could find constant updates on the internet and television and you could totally immerse yourself in the story.  But total immersion many times can take you away from the other responsibilities in your life.  I wonder how many people get so into every aspect of a story or sporting event that they end up ignoring the important people in their lives.  Like their wives.  Their husbands.  Their kids.  And what example do we set when we spend too much time in front of the computer and phone instead of with them, engaging them, asking them about their days, picking up a ball and playing with them?

I am just as guilty as the next guy of spending too much time on my phone.  Putting it away is tough.  It takes a lot of will power.  But I always feel better when I take a break from technology and spend more quality time talking to my family and other people.  You know, face-to-face, not Face Time to Face Time.  But I do wonder how all this technological immersion will affect our society five, ten, 20 years down the road.  Hopefully not for the worse.

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