Reality Bites: Social Times Have Changed…

Posted by Guest Contributing Writer Melissa Walker @mlissa910

The ringing of a house phone.  Remember those days? Where you could say “call me!” and not have to “lock it in”.  The phone would ring and more often than not, you would know who was calling. It was family, friend, or business.  These options were expected.  What wasnt expected was the “who are you?” call…the “why is my (insert husband, wife etc here) calling you” or the ever dreaded, “I saw your tweet/FB Post.”

Social Networks have been around for YEARS.  With smart phones taking over, the access we have to each other is like never before. If someone doesn‘t answer… we leave a message and then send a text.  Still no response?  The last ditch effort of a nagging FB or twitter message. How did we let ourselves get to the place where a virtual world is damaging  or controlling our real life?

Facebook is actually cited in divorces cases while twitter feeds are being used by law enforcement to gather evidence to crimes.  Jobs are being lost sometimes based simply on a thirty second decision to complain or post something that should of stayed within the physical walls of the office.

Teens are damaging their lives and leaving a trail of virtual skeletons behind them.  Parents and school officials are now faced with the dillema of how to handle this lawless virtual world.  Do you charge the 14 year old boy with child porn for having “sexted” pictures with his 14 year old girlfriend? Or is it just the new world of kids being kids?

One thing that is for certain.  We have to get a grip. This virtual world has to be navigated with a balance that many still haven‘t figured out.

Single adults now have the option of finding out more about their date by using google than actually getting to know them in person via that old fashioned idea of conversation.  One drunken picture being tagged on Facebook by a “friend” could shape someone‘s opinion of you and end a potential relationship before it even starts.   An ex-boyfriend or ex-wife can sabotage a budding relationship by a carefully orchestrated stalking of social networking sites.  For that, we should just bring them along on the date.  The influence they have behind a Social Network is as if they were there.  Not to mention the capapbilities of family and friends to chime in with opinions and comments. Going from dating to its complicated on FB can be equal to running down the street naked with the attention it draws. Where is the guidebook to help us with the new dating etiquette?

Marriage…that once solid joining of two people to make life a bit easier and to build a family with a partner. A couple standing united through good and bad.  What goes on behind closed doors was one of the things that kept relationships going or at times cause it to end.  At least family issues were handled and a decision was made before others knew something was amiss.  Couples now provide play by plays of their daily life.  Allowing people who may or may not have their best interest at heart impact their union.  The unlimited access to people also has a huge impact.  Where a man or woman may think of stepping outside their marriage, it took effort before cell phones and the computer. Now infidelity can begin by a simple click of a mouse.  A love from high school who should be just a fond memory of your youth is now at the tips of your fingers.  With the rate of divorce so high already, this is just another challege of married couples.

Every aspect of our lives can be affected by our online decisions.  Step outside…go to the park.  Watch the children play while their mothers sit on the bench and watch…their phones.  Family dinners, at least those who still have them, can consist of a whole family sitting around the table texting, Facebooking etc.  A teen girl could be getting bullied to the point of suicide at the same dinner table her mother is ending her marriage at… while the father looks at porn and the son puts himself on a sex offender list by asking a girl to send a “pic”.  This family is in their home together changing their lives and reaching into someone elses home and impacting theirs as well, all at the same time.

Social networking is not all bad.  It gives families seperated by oceans a means to interact in ways never before.  A Soldier in Iraq can watch their babies first steps. Couples can share pictures of their honeymoon without boring the world to tears with slideshows.  A daughter away at college can get her mothers opinion on a boy, an outfit or a hairstyle within seconds.  Friendships are made, relationships are started and carreers advance by the same tool that ends so many.  It takes thought and a very good filter to navigate this world.  Missteps will be made but they do not have to control us.

Put the phone down, look at the person sitting across from you and remind yourself that the little people that live in your phone are not more important that the full sized ones that reside in your real world.

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