When I was a teenager, going online meant connecting to a friend’s local bulletin board system and checking the message boards, though you knew that you were never connected at the same time as anyone else since we were using dial-up modems to connect directly to computers that were just like yours — pathetically slow compared to the computers of today, or even the iPads! For the most part, however, we did our communication face to face and on the phone if that was not possible.

It has now been about ten years since Friendster first launched and therefore there are plenty of teenagers today that are close to twenty that spent their entire teenage years having social web sites available to them. You would think, as a result, that they would be more inclined to be connected regularly than those of us who grew up with nothing but tin cans and strings to speak to one another. According to a recent survey, however, this is not the case.

According to the survey, talking was the preferred method of communication, not sending messages online or text messages through their phones. The best method of communication by far remains looking at the person face to face, speaking and listening. Now I have to consider my own life experiences.

When I’m on the bus riding from the subway in Kew Gardens to the bus stop closest to our apartment, I frequently see teenagers huddled over their phones, texting away. This actually fits in well with a different part of the survey that says that forty-one percent of those surveyed felt that they were addicted to their phones, and forty-three percent wished that they could take a break from social media once in awhile.

On the other hand, as I walk to work in the morning from the subway I am usually greeted with the sight of teenage school girls on their way to class, chatting away happily with not a thought to the mobile phones in their pocketbooks. Of course, both cases — the teens on the bus and the ones walking to class — could be isolated incidents that I observe.

I would like to suggest to the teens that are suffering from social media over-saturation to give a sort of sabbath observance a try. By this I mean that you should try completely disconnecting yourself from social networking of the digital sort — be it by e-mail, mobile phone, or through socially connected video games. Turn off the computer and phone and communicate with people whom you can reach in person.

Even if it turns out that the survey was just a little off — and we can assume that not everyone that answered to the survey gave their real truth but rather the truth they would idealize — having some time off of your social networking can be really beneficial. When I turn my phone back on after twenty-five hours of not using it, I always realize how little I missed it and how much I appreciated having real people around me with whom I could communicate.


  1. Keen article, Gordon. I also appreciate disconnecting from the constant “on” that has become our work lives first and our private lives second.

    1. Quite right. I can’t believe I actually told a friend to put away his phone when we had a drink together recently. The e-mail will still be there in an hour.

  2. Taking a ‘rest’ from electronics is just what I do, as you have suggested. I’m amazed at how many are actually satisfied with a phone call, rather than a face to face conversation. As time passes, I have become increasingly fond of enjoying the whole conversation. Body language can say much more than the ear can hear. 🙂

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