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Stop texting and pay attention: how social media is destroying teenagers' relationships

Updated on September 23, 2013

The virtual world of technology

How do you find people

What has this world come to? Everywhere you look, there is someone either texting, talking on the phone, listening to music, and just ignoring everything and everyone around them. What happened? How did society become a virtual world? For all who are wondering the same question, I have constructed a timeline from the early 80s until the present day of what was considered tech savvy and cool.

1980s Rocker Era

Where are payphones

So you rocked the parachute pants and the multi-colored hair. After all, it was ‘hammer time” and everyone wanted to fit in. Everyone who was cool had a boom box, just like Run DMC, and carried it everywhere they went. The bigger the boom box, the cooler you were. If you were really cool…..a portable phone! Do you remember the phone that was a foot long and weighed about two pounds?

Friends gathered around the boom box, listening to radio and hanging out. Not that many people had a cell phone, just pay phones. If you needed to call someone, you needed change for the pay phone. Pay phones were everywhere and phone booths were occupied by teenagers who used it as their own private phone. When you left the house, you took a handful of change to call everyone.

Record players and cassette tapes were the greatest invention since the A-track. DJ’s spun records at the clubs and played all the newest songs. If you wanted a copy of the music played that night, you requested a cassette copy of it. How cool was that? You played it the next time your friends came over, and sat around the radio, listening to the tape.

Family night consisted of a VCR tape, watching cable TV, playing board games, or watching family movies that you recorded on your camcorder. How about some video game for family night? Is anyone up for a game of Atari?

Homework was still done in notebooks and typewriters were needed for term papers. Life was much simpler, but relationships seemed very personal. Everyone wanted to hang out and spend time with each other. Encyclopedias and libraries were popular because they were had the resources that were needed to finish your homework.

Writing letter to friends was a popular option for communicating with each other. Writing letters and love notes was common. The personal computer was slowly becoming popular, but was mostly used for business tasks and military needs.

The 1980s was an era that began to expand with technology, but was able to keep close relationships with people. As much time that was spent trying to learn the new technology, one theme stayed the same….there was interaction between people. If you wanted to talk to someone, it was easier to meet them face-to-face. If you wanted to see a person, you had to meet up with them.

The 1980s was the era that created opportunity and opened the door for technology and the advancements that lead to today’s technological advancements. Should we be upset that the technology invented then, is why we have become a virtual society that forgets to speak to people face-to-face?

1990s Grunge Era

Long hair, black nail polish, angry attitude, and the quote “that sucks!” was cool. Grunge was in, Pearl jam, Tupac, Nirvana, and Biggie Smalls were it. Boom boxes were slowly being replaced with CD players and having 12-inch woofers in your car with a bass system was cool.

Friends gathered around cars and listened to the bass pumping, all the popular teenagers carried a pager. If they really had friends, they would get a page and have to drive to a pay phone to return the call. Cell phones were slowly becoming a popular item, but not completely necessary. Pagers and pay phones still ruled.

Renting a VCR at Blockbuster was a weekend trip with your friends. Once you found what you wanted, everyone gathered at a house to watch the movie. There was still a closeness that existed and movies brought friends together. All pagers were turned off and the answering machine took the message for you. T his way, you could spend quality time with you best friends.

Personal computers were becoming popular, but still not a necessity with everyone. People were able to survive in life without surfing the web. Word processors gave everyone who did not own a computer, an easier way to replace the typewriter. Emails made it easier for communicating to each other. They were slowly replacing personal letter writing. After all, it was easier to contact a person without waiting for the postal services to deliver the letter.

The 1990s was an era of advancement for the inventions that were created in the 1980s. Technology was evolving, focusing on individual needs. The portable phones, camcorders, cassettes, VCR tapes, pagers, and internet were evolving into smaller, more complicated devices that were giving people the ability to become more mobile and more distant from one another.

This, in my opinion, was the beginning of the end of personal friendships. Eveything would soon be at the tips of your finger and make people a distance away. Should we be upset that the technology invented back in the 1980s is why we distanced each other each even more from interacting with each other?

What Era do you identify with the most?

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2000s Millennium

Wireless Cell Phone and New phones

Christina Aguilera, Brittney Spears, Backstreet boys, and ‘N Sync…Oh my! Everyone wanted to look like one of them, and everyone wanted to dance like them. Cassettes were old, and songs were downloaded off the internet. The world was at the tips of your fingers and the world was becoming digitalized and distant.

Text messaging and emails are they way of communication and everyone seems to own a cell phone. Today, text messaging comprises of three-quarters of the all cell phone plans today. Everyone is one text away. Phone calls are becoming extinct because texting or picture text or video texting has taken over.

Movie night is now a downloaded item or a Netflix special. No more walking to Blockbuster or any video rental places for an outing with friends. Skyping may keep distant friends close, but in-town friends are kept further apart. When I watch people eating together, it is common to see a person text messaging while the other is talking. Where did the quality time go?

I often see people outdoors, on the beach, at the park, in restaurants, or shopping with a cell phone attached to their ear. Everywhere I look, people are texting, looking down at their phones, not paying attention to their surroundings. They cannot leave home without internet use or a phone. For some reason, people feel unattached to the world without the ability to use technology.

It seems as if the conventional “hello” to a passerby is becoming rude. They may be talking on the phone and it would be rude to interupt a conversation!. Society has become addicted to technology and forgot that people and places exist in this world. Even driving requires the use of technology, GPS, and people text each other a thousand times before they meet up with each other. Even when they are together, they text. They text everyone else, making sure they are not missing out on something.

Over the decades, human contact went from face-to-face interactions to virtual interactions. As if life has become a video game. I do think all of the technology created brought us closer to the world and brought the world into our homes, but we found a way to distance ourselves from our own reality. I am not against all the advancements, but it would be nice to bring the personal relationships back to society. The time when people spoke face-to-face, without distractions.

The song "video killed the radio star" was the first video shown on MTV. This was the beginning of the end of our simpler way of living where live was about people, not what you own. WHo would have thought that this song was a prophecy?


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    • profile image

      Telxperts 22 months ago from Australia

      This is an awesome hub.


    • chefmancave profile image

      Robert Loescher 5 years ago from Michigan

      Last year I got involved in a golf league more for the camaraderie than to improve my golf game. After the first night we all gathered in the club house to enjoy a few beers. All the younger guys instantly pulled out their cell phones and started tapping away. We (as a society) have become mental zombies limiting our "human" interactions to a 160 character text message. Death to the Cell Phones! Laugh Out Loud.

    • Peanutritious profile image

      Tara Carbery 5 years ago from Cheshire, UK

      This is an excellent hub and depressingly accurate. I hate it when you see couples sitting in restaurants both tapping away on their phones.

    • Sunny Robinson profile image

      Sunny Robinson 5 years ago from Tennessee

      I think that right now we're at a turning point. More and more people are finding ways to be green and simpler, while holding on to the conveniences of modern technology. More people are crying out for physical contact, face-to-face interactions, and tactile experiences.

      This part you wrote here: "I am not against all the advancements, but it would be nice to bring the personal relationships back to society. The time when people spoke face-to-face, without distractions."

      I think we're getting there. :) Humankind always seek to improve social experiences because we're social creatures. We may yet merge advanced technology with our tactile, colorful world.

      Your hub is pretty spot-on about the evolution of not only technology, but how we handle technology. You handled bringing those two experiences together very well in this hub. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I thumbed up your post and voted.

    • miakouna profile image

      miakouna 6 years ago

      Thank you for the feedback. I wrote this article because I am seeing more and more teenagers, even adults, forgetting about life and people. I watch more and more people walking down the street, looking at their cell phones, not looking at where they are walking. Very sad. Thank you again for the comment. Very appreciarted.

    • Marsei profile image

      Sue Pratt 6 years ago from New Orleans

      It is a thoughtful and well-written article. So sad that our children are developing no one-on-one social skills and have no idea how to be alone with themselves. The saddest part is that parents are allowing it to happen because it's more convenient when small children are occupied with their DSs and teens with texting. I'm old and I remember evenings when we sat around the fireplace and listened to "One Man's Family" and TALKED!

      Thanks for your article. It's thought-provoking.