Social media is crushing culture

BY DOREEN KAJERU

Last Sunday, I was unintentionally 45 minutes early for church.

Being the early bird I was, I looked for the most comfortable place to sit. But next to where I sat was a young man I didn’t greet.

I love greeting and for the peace of my conscience, but I convinced myself that it wasn’t my fault not to have said hello to him. He had buried his head in the screen of his phone and also had ear-phones plugged into his ears. Clearly, he didn’t want interruptions.

But this whole situation got me thinking about the massive erosion of a social people and the germination of the introvert kind. Moreover, church  is becoming a meeting place of people who supposedly have the same kind of faith but are clearly not connected! One will just not say a word to the other except when the pastor says so, in church! What have we become?

Yes, being on social media connects us to the other world – to our relatives and friends far from us, but how about the world near and around us?

The people we do not have any connection with and yet are so close to us.  We completely lock out the immediate environment and do not even have time to stop and appreciate the beauty of the palm trees swaying in praise for harmony. We are instead drowning in self and getting malnourished of life!

I mused on the not-so-long-ago times that our parents today tell us as folktales. Whenever they gathered, it was a time to share, unite and make the best out of the moment together.

They valued the aspect of a united and social society. They cared about each other and knew what the different concerns of society were.

Even today, those that have not been influenced by the dotcom era or better still,  error, when together, laugh in all kinds of languages and intonations because they are feeling the feel of life.

It is obvious then that in contemporary society, the advancement in technology has not only been mayhem to the societal values but also a conductor for the elusive behaviour cropping and taking root in our community. We need this advancement as much as we need the social and communal life. But how do we juggle the two?

Children are confined in their bedrooms and cannot even commune with the visitors simply because they have a friend online that needs to have a chat with them. It is that bad! Most are below teen age and are already addicted to the Internet and cannot in anyway live without it for as long as the perception underlying this crazy idea is “fashionable”.

A big number of parents unfortunately, because of leniency and the fact that they don’t have time for their children, have catalyzed this menace.

A friend of mine told of how her mother amidst tantrums had to put a policy of “no phones on table” during dinner, lunch and family time. Does it have to come to this?

Countrymen, youngsters recollect the good not-so-long-ago times when people treasured friendship, community and togetherness. A lion’s share of the population has got smart phones but we ought to take control of their control on us. Let us remember to be engaged in family, community and make new connections especially the physical.

Strangers in so many cases become the most special people in our lives. They may be our life and business partners, our employers or employees. Most times the starting point is the trick. Here is how to go: keep away your gadget, smile and say hello! The rest will follow in that line.

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