Our Disconnected Generation

The Rise in Social Media Correlating to the Decline in Sociability


Illustration by Keona Blanks.

Keona Blanks, Reporter

“Across the country, school districts are dealing with rumors or threats against school safety that is spread via social media,” said Superintendent Dr. Christina M. Kishimoto in a letter issued to schools across the State of Hawaii on February 15th, 2018 addressing the school shooting in Florida. Though social media is a medium of spreading violent threats, it also may be the root of those threats. Social media is taking time away from face-to-face communication and in-person activities (Giedd, 2012).

Illustration by Keona Blanks.

The influence of social media on Generation Z (those born from the mid 1990s to the early 2000s) is a means for worry. Cyber bullying is more common because of the lack of face-to-face emotional exchange on social media (Lenhart, 2010). Cyber bullies are deprived of the moral consequence of traditional bullying: the victim’s emotional facial reaction––the broken, despondent look in the eyes of their victim cannot be fully expressed in the words or emojis of a comment.

“Since you’re on cellular devices so often and you don’t socially interact as much. You only have a few people that you feel humane towards. When you lose that sense of compassion and guilt for people, you can’t care as much. When a school shooter shoots, they’re detached so much from compassion that they don’t feel that life that they’re taking is important––it’s just another Instagram ‘follower,’ just another person,” Rosie Cullen, a Junior at James Campbell High School, said. The tendency of social media to deprive individuals of a full socio-emotional experience results in one’s social isolation from those directly around them––making violent and socially-unacceptable actions morally easier to perform. Even one’s classmates become strangers.

Without the incorporation of face-to-face interaction in the social experience, the sociability of humanity faces inevitable decline. “When you have cellular devices and social media, you feel less compelled to socially interact in real-life, and since you’re exposed to all of those things, it’s like an escape. You change yourself as a person because you’re being influenced indirectly,” Cullen said.

“We need to connect as human beings. You need social interaction, and when you don’t have that in real-life it’s a lonely existence. You’re cut-off from the world and what’s going on around you,” Logan Baggett, an Ewa community member, said. An ongoing Washington Post analysis has found that more than 150,000 students attending at least 170 primary or secondary schools have experienced a shooting on campus since the Columbine High School massacre in 1999. Without self-control, awareness, and education, more unacceptable acts of violence by Generation Z and those thereafter are inevitable.