Communication Gap Widens With the Popularity of Social Media


Recently I attended the Historic Reno Preservation Society’s (HRPS) year-end dinner. I was thrilled to be included, since I only assisted on one walking tour way back in May! I was seated at a table of…well…an older crowd, and we got to talking about how their grandchildren rarely, if ever sit and talk with them. One woman said, “I would drop dead if my grand-daughter sat down and wanted to talk to me!”

That made me sad, and I got to thinking about my own niece, who typical of her generation have their smart phones (or as I like to call them smarty-pants phones) firmly attached to their palms, fixated on the latest game or texting friends. One night my husband and I invited her and her father (recently widowed) over to our house to share a meal and catch up on life. No sooner had we sat down to eat when my niece popped up out of her chair, kissed her daddy on the cheek, said a quick good-bye and flew out the door. Apparently she had sent a message to some nearby friends asking them to pick her up so she could spend the night at their house. I was only slightly offended. I mean, she is young and it is only natural for her to want to be with her friends, but couldn’t she have just had dinner with us and shared a little bit in the conversation?

So, aunts, uncles, fathers and mothers rank up there (or down there?) with grandparents when it comes to spending time with today’s teenagers. Which is kind of a shame when you think about it. Our older generation, those in their seventies and eighties, even nineties (my husband’s grandmother is a youthful ninety-seven-year-old) are a diminishing breed. Our opportunities for connecting are lessening.

We can learn so much from our grandparents. They went through the Great Depression, they really knew how to stretch a dime and grow a garden! Al Capone was the smuggling and bootlegging king of their day, they drew together as a nation during World War Two, they learned how to ration when the country needed them to, they saw the invention of helicopters and air conditioning, they were the first generation to eat cheeseburgers…

Some say that social media is making us less social and has stifled communication. I tend to agree, but then there are others out there who say it has improved matters. For instance, a person with Asperger’s Syndrome might feel their facial expressions and body language are misleading and that they can communicate better through social media.

I know there is always another side to the question, but, it sure would be nice if some of the time kids and older ones could sit around and just talk to each other.

That’s all I have to say. What do you think? Can we ever bridge the communication gap between young ones and older ones? Or has technology ruined it forever?


2 responses to “Communication Gap Widens With the Popularity of Social Media

  1. “Some say that social media is making us less social and has stifled communication.” If your niece is a teenager, I’d say that teenagers have never been great at wanting to communicate with their elders. Generally speaking, they’ve always been a self-absorbed breed. If your niece is in her twenties, she should know better than to bail out of a dinner she was invited to attend. Did anyone say anything to your niece about leaving or was everyone just okay with it? If her father was recently widowed it’s possible that everyone in the family is still going through a grief period, and maybe being with friends is how your niece is handling her grief. The same might apply to her Dad who just didn’t have it in him emotionally to be strong as a parent and insist she stay. Social media can seem distancing – especially if you don’t have a computer (like many elderly) and you don’t participate. On the other hand, it can be an amazing tool for cross-generational communication. I’ve had many more conversations with people younger than me and also older than me that I probably wouldn’t have had offline. I think balance is the key, as in everything else in life. But I do think it’s up to us elders to teach the young ones to put away the smart phones when we’re all at a family dinner.

    • Thank you Darlene, I agree with you completely. My sister-in-law had passed away recently when this event occurred, so I guess we were all overlooking things. Balance is the key! Thank you for your comments they are spot on!

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