Gemma Styles | Contributing writer | Saturday, 27 February 2016

Gemma Styles 28 Feb

Gemma Styles: How Social Media's Totally Changed My IRL Behaviour

The Debrief: Remember the good old days when you used to talk to people on the phone, like all the time?

Photography by Matilda Hill-Jenkins

It's 2016 and the way we express ourselves online is changing. After years of having our emotions watered down and flattened to nothing more than 'like', Facebook has added new options for reacting to your friend's missing cat, relationship status change or video of a dog tidying the house. Now you can 'Love,' 'Haha' and 'Sad' your way through your morning scroll. But how is this going to change our Facebook behaviour? 

I can foresee extra angst on the horizon. Someone has posted a status about how they've recovered from a trauma. Before you could give it a supportive like and not worry too much about it - that's the only option, what else can you do? But now - do you like? Does that seem insensitive? Do you Sad? It's sad they they've had a tough time but now you're glad they're feeling better... Hmm.

What if it's you that's posted? Your latest meme find has got 23 likes but only three Hahas. Is it not as funny as you thought? Are those pity Hahas??

Rather than spending more time pondering new things for us to worry about, let's have a look at some of the ways social media has changed our behaviour already.

Picture it or it didn't happen 

How many times have you been to a show, concert, festival etc and realised that all you can see in front of you is a sea of cameras in the air? Or got to the end of an evening and clocked that you've spent more time watching the stage through your iPhone screen than with your actual eyes? All anyone is really doing is trying to get the perfect shot for Instagram so everyone else can see what a fantabulous time they're having. What's the point of doing cool stuff if nobody knows how cool and fun you are, huh? Ten years ago we might have taken pictures for posterity on our little digital cameras but it was more for the collage on our bedroom wall than for anybody else's benefit. 

The language of lols 

Now that we spend more time typing we spend more time working out how to speed that up. Aside from the young people of today accidentally developing the skills to ace their typists exam, the people of the Internet have also developed a widely accepted dictionary of acronyms that have slowly wormed their way into proper language. This has been building since the days of msn. While you might not have walked up to someone and asked them 'ASL?' - not least because you can see their location, duh - we certainly wander around spouting 'LOL' and 'selfie' and 'GIF' with careless abandon. Without social media this just doesn't seem likely. Phrases spread across the give and then into our lexicon.

How we communicate 

Do you remember the good old days when you'd call people on the phone, like, all the time? You'd have to hang up after 59 minutes so you didn't get charged loads. And then obviously just call straight back again because you know how to play the system and stick it to the man. The man at the phone company. Social media has given us so many new ways to contact people that the old classics have been pushed way down the list like relics of an ancient civilisation. Now phone calls are reserved for your nearest and dearest or some sort of intense crisis situation where typing out the argument you're calling to discuss would just take too much time and you need a second opinion NOW. People ordering a takeaway used to actually have to speak to a person on the phone and read out the enormous list of Chinese dishes they order on a Sunday evening. How embarrassing. Thank God for Just Eat. (Other takeaway apps are available.) Your phone doesn't know that the vast number of plus signs you're clicking on equates to equally vast amounts of noodles. 

Like this? then you might also be interested in:

How To Save Loads Of Money Without Really Trying

How To Get The Money Your Friends Owe You Without Sounding Like A Dick

How To Have A Cheap Holiday With Your Friends

Follow Gemma on Twitter @GemmaAnneStyles

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