Posted by: mollyrossiter | February 4, 2009

How social will they be?

social-mediaA friend who follows me on Twitter asked this morning whether our kids would be able to interact personally when they grow up, given the vast array of social media and technology they’re using.

I didn’t know how to answer.

I know I am a social media junkie, as much as I can be, and am still learning. I love Twitter, Facebook, texting, instant messaging, blogging, LinkedIn and all the sites and avenues that have allowed me to connect and reconnect with people. I have created new relationships and databases from which to draw story ideas, parenting tips, music hints and more.

But here’s the difference: In the world that I grew up in, I was forced as a child to talk to my friends face to face, to apologize to the neighbors for trampling their garden by going over and knocking on the door, to apply for a job by filling out a resume and handing it to someone in person.

We had no other alternative.

I love the fact that my kids, both teenagers now, can have short conversations with their friends without tying up the phone line or get an answer to a question without it turning into a 30-minute telephone conversation about the disparity of the lunch menu. I am grateful that we can search together for answers on the Internet and research people and places for research papers and articles, and that they can keep in contact with their grandparents through cell phones and e-mail.

I worry, though, about the personal relationships my kids will have when they’re adults. How will they deal with face-to-face conflict resolution? They don’t deal with it now at all — all apologies and explanations are made on Facebook or through their cell phone’s text messaging capabilities.

What about talking to someone they don’t know? My son is often embarrassed when I talk to strangers while standing in the grocery line. It’s not a long conversation, but it’s the general pleasantries you exchange when you’re waiting. It’s just what you do.

I am excited for the future of technology and the additional ways in which we will be able to connect and interact with people who are states or countries away. What I am concerned about, however, is how my kids will relate to the person standing beside them.



  1. This question has been weighing on my mind for some time now.

    I noticed my peers, upon entering college, were wholly afraid of ordering pizza over the phone. The idea of calling a complete stranger bothered them. More than once I’ve ordered pizza for someone else.

    I’ve also seen, with the high school students that I tutor, that kids using impersonal mediums are far more passive-aggressive and are incapable of expressing themselves clearly. To be fair, I’m not sure even now if I’ve mastered how to express myself, but I feel as if it’s worse than when I was in high school.

    That being said, my peers have made personal interactions, can order their pizza, and have adjusted while at college. Nothing like throwing the lot of ’em together to make them relate face to face.

    Will your children be willing to talk to a complete stranger in a grocery line? Perhaps not as often as you do, but I’m certain they’ll grow to be able to.

  2. I’ve often wondered how social media changes the personality of a person. And I’m a big believer in pre-destiny. What if the way your personality changes isn’t the way it was meant to be. What if you weren’t meant to wear a mask and act differently? I hope that eventually social media will even out to where people are just as comfortable as they are in real life, or perhaps something similar. Hope this makes sense.

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